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bt a. g. chater 

First Published, June, 1914 
New Edition, November, 1915 




Prlntti in Great Britain. 

Sculptor: J. Davidson. Photo: A. Langdon Coburu. 







Friedrtch Nietzsche appears to me the most interesting 
writer m G(it-man literature it thr pr««efi I lime." "Though 
little known even in his own country, he is a thinker of a 
_iiigh o rder, who fully deserves to be studied, discussed, 
contested and mastered. Among many good qualities he 
has that of imparting his mood to others and setting their 
thoughts in motion. 

During a period of eighteen years Nietzsche has written 
a long series of books and pamphlets. Most of these volumes 
consist of aphorisms, and of these the greater par t, as well 
as the more original, a re concerned with moral prejudices. 
In this~province will be^ found his lasting importance. But 
besides this he has dealt with the most varied problems ; 
he has written on culture and history, on art and women, on 
companionship and solitude, on the State and society, on 
life's struggle and death. 

He was born on October 15, 1844; studied philology; 
became in 1869 professor of philology at Basle; made the 
acquaintance of Richard Wagner and became warmly, 
attached to him, and associated also with the distinguished 
historian of the Renaissance, Jakob Burkhardt. Nietzsche's 
admiration and affection for Burkhardt were lasting. His 
feeHng for Wagner, on the other hand, underwent a complete 
revulsion in the course of years. From having been Wagner's 
prophet he developed into his most passionate opponent. 

* "The expression 'aristocratic radicalism,' which you employ, is 
very good. It is, permit me to say, the cleverest thing I have yet 
read about myself."— Nietzsche, Dec. 2, 1887. 

I A 


Nietzsche was always heart and soul a musician ; he even 
tried his hand as a composer in his Hymn to Life (for chorus 
and orchestra, 1888), and his intercourse with Wagner left 
deep traces in his earliest writings. But the opera of 
Parsifal, with its tendency to Catholicism and its advance- 
ment of the ascetic ideals w hich had previously been entirely 
foreign to Wagner, caused Nietzsche to see in the great 
composer a danger, an enemy, a morbid phenomenon, since 
this last work showed him all the earlier operas in a new 

During his residence in Switzerland Nietzsche came to 
know a large circle of interesting people. He suffered, 
however, from extremely severe headaches, so frequent 
that they incapacitated him for about two hundred days in 
the year and brought him to the verge of the grave. In 
1879 he resigned his professorship. From 1882 to 1888 his 
state' of health improved, though extremely slowly. His 
eyes were still so weak that he was threatened with blind- 
ness. He was compelled to be extremely careful in his mode 
of life and to choose his place of residence in obedience to 
climatic and meteorological conditions. He usually spent 
the winter at Nice and the summer at Sils-Maria in the 
Upper Engadine. The years 1887 and 1888 were astonish- 
ingly rich in production ; they saw the publication of the 
most remarkable works of widely different nature and the 
preparation of a whole series of new books. Then, at the 
close of the latter year, perhaps as the result of overstrain, 
a violent attack of mental disorder occurred, from which 
Nietzsche never recovered. 

As a thinker his starting-point is Schopenhauer ; in his 
first books he is actually his disciple. But, after several 
years of silence, during which he passes through his first 
intellectual crisis, he reappears emancipated from all ties 
of discipleship. He then undergoes so powerful and rapid 
a development — less in his thought itself than in the courage 
to express his thoughts — that each succeeding book marks 
a fresh stage, until by degrees he concentrates himself upon] 
a single fundamental question, the question of moral values. 


On his earliest appearance as a thinker he had already 
entered a protest, in opposition to David Strauss, against v 
any moral interpretation of the nature of the Cosmos and 
assigned to our morality its place in the world of pheno- 
mena, now as semblance or error, now as artificial arrange- 
ment. A nd his lite rary activity rea ched its highest point 
in an inv est igation oTlEe or'K'" 'i^f t^ moral con cepts. , 
while it was his hope and intention to give to the world an 
exhaustive criticism of moral values, an examination of the 
value of these values (regarded as fixed once for all). The 
first book of his work, The Transvaluation of all Values, was 
completed when his malady declared itself. 

Nietzsche first received a good deal of notice, though not 
much commendation, for a caustic and juvenile polemical 
pamphlet against David Strauss, occasioned by the latter's 
book. The Old Faith and the New. His attack, irreverent 
in tone, is directed not against the first, warlike section of 
the book, but against the constructive and complementary 
section. The attack, however, is less concerned with the 
once great critic's last effort than with the mediocracy in 
Germany, to which Strauss's last word represented the last 
word of culture in general. 

A year and a half had elapsed since the close of the 
Franco-German War. Never had the waves of German self- 
esteem run so high. The exultation of victory had passed 
into a tumultuous self-glorification. The universal view 
was that German culture had vanquished French. Then 
this voice made itself heard, saying — 

Admitting that this was really a conflict between two 
civilisations, there would still be no reason for crowning 
the victorious one; we should first have to know what the 
vanquished one was worth ; if its value was very slight — 
and this is what is said of French culture — then there was 
no great honour in the victory. But in the next place there 


can be no question at all in this case of a victory of German 
culture; partly because French culture still persists, and 
partly because the Germans, now as heretofore, are de- 
pendent on it. It was military discipline, natural bravery, 
endurance, superiority on the part of the leaders and 
obedience on the part of the led, in short, factors that have 
nothing to do with culture, which gave Germany the victory. 
But finally and above all, German culture was not victorious 
for the good reason that Gerfnar^jasj}iet_has nothing that 

can be called ctdtjire. 

'"It was then only a year since Nietzsche himself had 
formed the greatest expectations of Germany's future, had 
looked forward to her speedy liberation from the leading- 
strings of Latin civilisation, and heard the most favourable 
omens in German music/ The intellectual decline, which 
seemej ^ to him — rightly ^ no doubt^tct ^te Ind isputably 
from the foundation of. the Empire, now made him oppose a 
ruthless defiance to the prevailing popular sentiment. 

He maintains that culture shows itself above all else in a 
unity of artistic style running through every expression of , 
a nation's life. ^Qiiilie. ojherjianjjjhe XacLof . havingjearnt 
much and knowing much is, as he points out, neither a 
necessary means to culture nor a sign of culture ; it accords" 
remarkably well with bai'barism, that is to say, with want 
of style or a motley hotchpotch of styles. And his con- 
tention is simply this, that with a culture consisting of 
hotchpotch it is impossible to subdue any enemy, above all 
an enemy like the French, who have long possessed a genuine 
and productive culture, whether we attribute a greater or 
a lesser value to it. 

He appeals to a saying of Goethe to Eckermann : "We 
Germans are of yesterday. No doubt in the last hundred 
years we have been cultivating ourselves quite diligently, 
but it may take a few centuries yet before our countrymen 
have absorbed sufficient intellect and highfiX—Culture for it 
to be said of them that it is a long time since they were 

1 The Birth of Tragedy, p. 150 fif. (English edition). 


To Nietzsche, as we see, the concepts of culture and ^ 
homogeneous culture are equivalent. In order to b^f'homo- '• 
geneous a culture must have reached a certain age and have 
become strong enough in its peculiar character to have 
penetrated all forms of life. Homogeneous culture, how- 
ever, is of course not the same thing as native culture. 
Ancient Iceland had a homogeneous culture, though its 
flourishing was brought about precisely by active intercourse 
with Europe; a homogeneous culture existed in Italy at the 
time of the Renaissance, in England in the sixteenth, in 
France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, although 
Italy built up her culture of Greek, Roman and Spanish 
impressions, France hers of classical, Celtic, Spanish and 
Italian elements, and although the English are the mixed . 
race beyond all others. True, it is only a century and a half 
since the Germans began to liberate themselves from French 
culture, and hardly more than a hundred years since they 
entirely escaped from the Frenchmen's school, whose in- 
fluence may nevertheless be traced even to-day : but still 
no one can justly deny the existence of a German culture, 
even if it is yet comparatively young and in a state of 
growth. Nor will anyone who has a sense for the agreement 
between German music and German philosophy, an ear 
for the harmony between German music and German lyrical 
poetry, an eye for the merits and defects of German painting 
and sculpture, which are the outcome of the same funda- 
mental tendency that is revealed in the whole intellectual 
and emotional life of Germany, be disposed in advance to 
deny Germany a homogeneous culture. More precarious 
will be the state of such smaller countries whose dependence 
on foreign nations has not un frequently been a dependence 
raised to the second power. 

To Nietzsche, however, this point is of relatively small 
importance. He is convinced that the last hour of national 
cultures is at hand, since the time cannot be far off when it 
will only be a question of a European or European-American 
culture. He argues from the fact that the most highly 
developed people in every country already feel as Europeans, 



as fellow-countrymen, nay, as confederates, and from the 
belief that the twentieth century must bring with it the 
war for the dominion of the world. 

When, therefore, from the result of this war a tempestuous 
wind sweeps over all national vanities, bending and breaking 
them, what will then be the question ? 

The question will then be, thinks Nietzsche, in exact 
agreement with the most eminent Frenchmen of our day, 
whether by that time it has been possible to tjrain or rear a 
sort of caste of pre-eipinent^s^its who will be able to ^asp 
the centr al p'^^^"^'' 

The real misfortune is, therefore, not that a country is 
still without a genuine, homogeneous and perfected culture, 
but that it thinks itself cultured. And with his eye upon 
Germany Nietzsche asks how it has come about that so 
prodigious a contradiction can exist as that between the 
lack of true culture and the self-satisfied belief in actually 
possessing the only true one — and he finds the answer in the 
circumstance that a class of men has come to the front which 
no former century has known, and to which (in 1873) he 
gave the name oi^' Culture-Philistines." > 

The Culture-Philistine regards his own impersonal 
education as the real culture ; if he has been told that 
culture presupposes a homogeneous stamp of mind, he is 
confirmed in his good opinion of himself, since everywhere 
he meets with educated people of his own sort, and since 
schools, universities and academies are adapted to his 
requirements and fashioned on the model corresponding to 
his cultivation. SjjacfiJlcJ&nds almost everywhere the same 
tacit co nventions with r espect to religion, morality and 
literature, with respect to marriage, the family, the com- 
munity and the State, he considers it demonstrated that this 
imposing homogeneity is culture. It never enters his head 
that this systematic and well-organised philistinism, which 
is set up in all high places and installed at every editorial 
desk, is not by any means made culture just because its 
organs are in concert. It is not even_bad culture, says 
Nietzsche ; it is barbarism fortified to the best of its~abiTity, 


but entirely lacking the freshness and savage force of original 
barbarism; and he has many graphic expressions to describe 
Culture-Philistinism as the morass in which all weariness is 
stuck fast, and in the poisonous mists of which all endeavour 

All of us are now born into the socieiy of cultured philis- 
tinism, in it we all grow up. It confronts us with prevailing 
opinions, which we unconsciously adopt; and even when 
opinions are divided, the division is only into party opinions 
— public opinions. 

An aphorism of Nietzsche's reads: "Wh^t_is public y 
opinion? It is private indolence." The dictum requires "^''^ 
qualification. There are cases where public opinion is 
worth something : John Morley has written a good book on 
the subject. In the face of certain gross breaches of faith 
and law, certain monstrous violations of human rights, 
public opinion may now and then assert itself as a power 
worthy to be followed. O therwis e it is as a rule a factory 
work ing for the benefit of C ulture- FfiiJistmism. 

TJ n entering life. tJien. ybung 'p eopie meet with various 
collective opinions^ more or less narrow-min ded. The more 
t he individual has it in him to bec ome a real pe rsona lity, 
the more he will resist following a herd, feut even if an 
inner voice says to him : *' Become thyself ! Be thyself I " 
he hears its appeal with despondency. Has he a self ? He 
does not know ; he is not yet aware of it. 

He therefore looks about for a teacher, an educator, one 
who will teach him, not something foreign, but how to 
become his own individual self. 

We had in Denmark a great man who with impressive 
force exhorted his contemporaries to become individuals. 
But S^ren Kierkegaard's appeal was not intended to be 
taken so unconditionally as it sounded. For the goal was 
fixed. They were to become individuals, not in order to 
develop into free personalities, but in order by this means to 
become true Christians. Their freedom was only apparent; 
above them was suspended a "Thou shalt believe!" and 
a " Thou shalt obey ! " Even as individuals they had a 


halter round their necks, and on the farther side of the 
narrow passage of individualism, through which the herd 
was driven, the herd awaited them again — one flock, one 

It is not with this idea of immediately resigning his 
personality again that the young man in our day desires to 
become himself and seeks an educator. He will not have a 
dogma set up before him, at which he is expected to arrive. 
But he has an uneasy feeling that he is packed with dogmas. 
How^ is he to find himself in himself, how is he to dig himself 
out of hipiself? This is where tTie educator should help 
him. An educator can only be a liberator. 
/ It was a liberating educator of this kind that Nietzsche 
./as a young man looked for and found in Schopenhauer. 
Such a one will be found by every seeker in the personality 
that has the most liberating effect on him during his period 
of development. Nietzsche says that as soon as he had read 
a single page of Schopenhauer, he knew he would read every 
page of him and pay heed to every word, even to the errors 
he might find. Every intellectual aspirant will be able to 
name men whom he has read in this way. 

It is true that for Nietzsche, as for any other aspirant, 
there remained one more step to be taken, that of liberating 
himself from the liberator. We find in his earliest writings 
certain favourite expressions of Schopenhauer's which no 
longer appear in his later works. But the liberation is here 
a tranquil development to independence, throughout which 
he retains his deep gratitude ; not, as in his relations with 
Wagner, a violent revulsion which leads him to deny any 
value to the works he had once regarded as the most valuable 
of all. 

He praises Schopenhauer's lofty honesty, beside which 
he can only place Montaigne's, his lucidity, his constancy, 
and the purity of his relations with society, State and State- 
religion, which are in such sharp contrast with those of 
/ Kant. With Sc hopenhauer t here is never a c oncession, 
V ne ver a dallyi ng. 

And Nietzsche is astounded by the fact that Schopenhauer 


could endure life in Germany at all. A modern Englishman 
has said : " Shelley could never have lived in England : a 
race of Shelleys would have been impossible." Spirits of 
this kind are earl y broken, then be co^iPTnelanrholy^ rnnrhiH 
or insane. The society of the Culture-Philistines mak es life ) 
a burden to exceptional men . Examples of this occur in 
^JflfflT^'TrrTJielife^Sureorevery country, and the trial is 
constantly being made. We need only think of the number 
of talented men who sooner or later make their apologies 
and concessions to philistinism, so as to be permitted to 
exist. But even in the strongest the vain and weary struggle 
with Culture-Philistinism shows itself in lines and wrinkles. 
Nietzsche quotes the saying of the old diplomatist, who 
had only casually seen and spoken to Goethe : " Votla un 
hommequia eu de grands chagrins," and Goethe's comment, 
when repeating it to his friends : " If the traces of our 
sufferings and activities are indelible even in our features, 
it is no wonder that all that survives of us and our struggles 
should bear the same marks." And this is Goethe, who is 
looked upon as the favourite of fortune ! 

Schopenhauer, as is well known, was until his latest years 
a solitary man. No one understo od him, no one r e ad h im. 
The ot the rirst edition of his work. Die Welt 
"atslVille und VorsfcUtmg, had to be sold as waste paper. 

In our day Taine's view has widely gained ground, that 
the great man is entirely determined by the age whose child 
he is, that he unconsciously sums it up and ought consciously 
to give it expression.* But although, of course, the great 
man does not stand outside the course of history and must 
always depend upon predecessors, an idea nevertheless ^^ 
always germinates in a single individual or in a few indi- ^jJ^ 
viduals; a nd these individuals are not scatte red points in 
the low-lying mass, but hi;i^TiTy"girtetT"ones"\\'lK)""Sr^ the 
Ttnass tu them instead of being drawn by it. What is called 

^ The author of these lines has not made himself the advocate of 
this view, as has sometimes been publicly stated, but on the contrary 
has opposed it. After some uncertainty I pronounced against it as 
early as 1870, in Deti frattske /Esthetik i vore Dage, pp. 105, 106, and 
afterwards in many other places. 


t he spirit of the age originates in qi ^ite a small number of 
^ . -brains. 

^"^i^ietzsche who, mainly no doubt through Schopenhauer's 
influence, had originally been strongly impressed by the 
dictum thalJtIie_great,man is not the-^^hild- of his age but its 
step-child, dem ands that the educator shall help the young 
: o educate themselves in opposition to the^ge. 

It appears to him that the modern age has produced for 
imitation three particular types of man, one after the other. 
First Rousseau's man, the Titan who raises himself, oppressed 
and bound by the higher castes, and in his need calls 
upon holy Nature. Then Goethe's man ; not Werther or 
the revolutionary figures related to him, who are still derived 
from Rousseau, nor the original Faust figure, but Faust 
as he gradually develops. He is no liberator, but a 
spectator, of the world. He is not the man of action. 
Nietzsche reminds us of Jarno's words to Wilhelm Meister: 
"You are vexed and bitter, that is a very good thing. If 
you could be thoroughly angry for once, it would be better 

To become thoroughly angry in order to make things 
better, this, in the view of the Nietzsche of thirty, will be 
the exhortation of Schopenhauer's man. Th is manj volun- 
tarily takefe upon himself thep aiq of telling the truthj^ . His 
fundam ental idea is th is : A life of happiness is impjossi-We ; 
t he High est a man can attam to is a heroic life, one in which 
he fights against the greatest difficulties for something which, 
in one way or another, will be for the good of all. JTojah^tX 
isTruly human, only true human beings can raise us; those 
who seem to have come into being by a leap in Nature ; 
JJiinkers and educators, artists and creators, and those who 
influence us more by their nature. .than by their activity : 
the noble, the good in a grand style, those in whom the 
genius of good is at work. 

These men are the aim'bf history. 

Nietzsche formulates this proposition : " Humanity must 
wprk unceasingly foi* the production of solitary great 
men — this and nothing else is its task." This is the same 


formula at which several aristocratic spirits among his 
contemporaries have arrived. Thus Renan says, almost in 
the same words : " In fine, the object of humanity is the 
production of great men . . . nothing but great men; 
salvation will come from great men." And we see from 
Flaubert's letters to George Sand how convinced he was of 
the same thing. He says, for instance: "The only rational 
thing is and always will be a government of mandarins, 
provided that the mandarins can do something, or rather, 
can do much. ... It matters little whether a greater or 
smaller number of peasants are able to read instead of listen- 
ing to their priest, but it is infinitely important that many 
men like Renan and Littr^ may live and be heard. Our- 
salvation now lies in a real aristocra cy." ^ Both Renan and 
■PhniBert would have subscribed to Nietzsche's fundamental 
idea that a nation is the roundabout way Nature goes in . 

order to produce a dozen great men. ,y^ 

Yet, although the idea does not lack advocates, this does 
not make it a dominant thought in European philosophy. 
In Germany, for instance, Eduard von Hartmann thinks 
very differently of the aim of history. His published 
utterances on the subject are well known. In conversation 
he once hinted how his idea had originated in his mind : 
" It was clear to me long ago," he said, " that history, or, 
to use a wider expression, the world process, must have an 
aim, and that this aim could only be negative. For a golden 
age is too foolish a figment." Hence his visions of a destruc- 
tion of the world voluntarily brought about by the most 
gifted men. And connected with this is his doctrine that 
humanity has now reached man's estate, that is,^has passed 
the stage of development in which geniuses were necessary. 

In the face of all this talk of the world process, the aim of 
which is annihilation or deliverance — deliverance even of 
the suffering godhead from existence — Nietzsche takes a very 
sober and sensible stand with his simple belief that the goal 

^ Nietzsche : Thoughts out of Season, II., p. 155 f. (English edition). 
Renan: Dialogues et Fragments Philosophiques, p. 103. Flaubert: Lettres 
a George Sand, p. 139 fif. 


of humanity is not to be infinitely deferred, butjujust be 
found in the l^ig he<;f py^^plpg gf bl]l^^"'ty itself. 

And herewith he has arrived at his^Hnananswer to the 
question, What is culture ? For upon this relation depend 
the fundamental idea of culture and the duties culture 
imposes. It imposes on me the duty of associating myself 
by my own activity with the great human ideals. Its 
fundamental idea is this : itas si^ns ti^ every ^pdividva l who 
wishes to work for it and participate in it, the task pLsl ijving 
to produce, within arid " XdthoTrl.'"lllfliself, the thinker and 
artist, the lover of truth and beauty, the pure and good 
personality, and thereby striving for the pe^fectio,n oT 
Nature, towards the goal of a perfected Nature. 

When does a state of culture prevail ? When the men of 
a community are steadily working for the production of single 
_gFeat men. From this highest aim all the others follow. 
And what state is farthest removed frorn a state of culture ? 
That in which men energetically and with united forces 
resist the appearance of great men, partly by preventing 
the cultivation of the soil required for the growth of genius, 
partly by obstinately opposing everything in the shape of 
genius that appears amongst them. Such a state is more 
remote from culture than that of sheer barbarism. 

But does such a state exist ? perhaps some one will ask.* 
Most of the smaller nations will be able to read the answer 
in the history of their native land. It will there be seen, in 
proportion as "refinement" grows, that the refined atmo- 
sphere is diffused, which is unfavourable to genius. And 
this is all the more serious, since many people think that in 
modern times and in the races w^hich now share the dominion 
of the world among them, a political community of only a 
fewmiUionsis seldom sufficiently numerous to produce minds 
of the very first order. It looks as if geniuses could only be 
dis tilled from some thirty or forty millions of people. Norway 
with Ibsen, Belgium with Maeterlinck and Verhaeren are 
exceptions. All the more reason is there for the smaller 
communities to work at culture to their utmost capacity. 
In recent times we have become familiar with the thought 


that the goal to be aimed at is happiness, the happiness of 
all, or at any rate of the greatest number. Wherein happi- 
ness consists is less frequently discussed, and yet it is 
impossible to avoid the question, whether a year, a day, an 
hour in Paradise does not bring more happinsss than a life- 
time in the chimney-corner. But be that as it may: owing 
to our familiarity with the notion of making sacrifices for a 
whole country, a multitude of people, it appears unreason- 
able that a man should exist for the sake of a few other men, 
that it should be his duty to devote his life to them in order 
thereby to promote culture. But nevertheless the answer 
to the question of culture — how the individual human life 
may acquire its highest value and its greatest significance — 
must be : By being lived for the benefit of the rarest and 
most valuable examples of the human race. This will also 
be the way in which the individual can best impart a value 
to the life of the greatest number. 

~ln our day a so-called cultural institution means an 
organisation in virtue of which the "cultured" advance 
in serried ranks and thrust aside all solitary and obstinate 
men whose efforts are directed to higher ends; therefore 
even the learned are as a rule lacking in any sense for bud- 
ding genius and any feeling for the value of struggling con- 
temporary genius. Therefore, in spite of the indisputable 
and restless progress in all technical and specialised depart- 
ments, the conditions necessary to the appearance of great 
men are so far from having improved, that dislike of genius 
has rather increased than diminished. 

From the State the exceptional individual cannot expect 
much. He is seldom benefited by being taken into its 
service ; the only certain advantage it can give him is 
complete independence. O nly rea l culture wil l preve nt hi^ ^ 
being too early tired^out or used up, and will spare him thje ^' 
exhausting struggle against Culture-Philistinism. 

Nietzsche's value lies in his being one of these vehicles 
of culture : a mind which, itself independent, diffuses inde- 
pendence and may become to others a liberating force, such 
as Schopenhauer was to Nietzsche himself in his younger 


Four of Nietzsche's early works bear the collective title, 
Thoughts out of Season {Unzeitgemdsse Betrachtungen), a 
title which is significant of his early-formed determination 
to go against the stream. 

One of the fields in which he opposed the spirit of the age 
in Germany is that of education, since he condemns in the 
most uncompromising fashion the entire historical system of 
education of which Germany is proud, and which as a rule 
is everywhere regarded as desirable. 

His view is that what keeps the race from breathing freely 
and willing boldly is that it drags far too much of its past 
about with it, like a round-shot chained to a convict's leg. 
He thinks it is historical education that fetters the race 
both in enjoyment and in action, since he who cannot con- 
centrate himself on the moment and live entirely in it, can 
neither feel happiness himself nor do anything to make 
others happy. Without the power of feeling unhistorically, 
there is no happiness. And in the same way, forgetfulness, 
or, rather, non-knowledge of the past is essential to all action. 
Forgetfulness, the unhistorical, is as it were the enveloping 
air, the atmosphere, in which alone life can come into being. 
In order to understand it, let us imagine a youth who is 
seized with a passion for a woman, or a man who is swayed 
by a passion for his work. In both cases what lies behind 
them has ceased to exist — and yet this state (the most 
unhistorical that can be imagined) is that in which every 
action, every great deed is conceived and accomplished. 
Now answering to this, says Nietzsche, there exists a certain 
degree of historical knowledge which is destructive of a 
man's energy and fatal to the productive powers of a nation. 

In this reasoning we can hear the voice of the learned 
German philologist, whose observations have mostly been 
drawn from German scholars and artists. For it would .be 
unreasonable to suppose that the commercial or peasant 
class, the soldiers or manufacturers of Germany suffered 
from an excess of historical culture. But even in the case 



of German savants, authors and artists the evil here pointed 
out may be of such a nature as not to admit of remedy by 
simply abolishing historical education. Those men whose 
productive impulse has been checked or killed by historical 
studies were already so impotent and ineffective that the 
world would not have been enriched by their productions. 
And moreover, what paralyses is not so much the hetero- 
geneous mass of dead historical learning (about the actions 
of governments, political chess-moves, military achieve- 
ments, artistic styles, etc.), as the knowledge of certain great 
minds of the past, by the side of whose production anything 
that can be shown by a man now living appears so insignifi- 
cant as to make it a matter of indifference whether his work 
sees the light or not. Goethe alone is enough to reduce 
a young German poet to despair. But^a^^ero- worshipper:::^ 
like Nietzsche cannot consistently desire to curtail our 
knowledge of the greatest. 

The want of artistic courage and intellectual boldness has 
certainly deeper-lying causes ; above all, the disintegration 
of the individuality which the modern order of society 
involves. Strong men can carry a heavy load of history 
without becoming incapacitated for living. 

But what is interesting and significant of Nietzsche's 
whole intellectual standpoint is his inquiry as to how far 
life is able to make use of history. History, i n his v iew, 
belon gs to him w ho is fighting a great fight, and who needs 
examples, teachers ltn(3~ comforters, b ut c ann ot li nd Ifiem 
among his contemporaries. Without history the mountain 
chain of great men's great moments, which runs through 
milleniums, could not stand clearly and vividly before me. 
When one sees that it only took about a hundred men to 
bring in the culture of the Renaissance, it may easily be 
supposed, for exa mple, that a hundred produc tive minds, 
t rained in a new style^ wou ld be enough to mak g^an pnH of 
Culture-Philistinis m. On the other hand, history may have 
pernicious effects in the hands of unproductive men. Thus 
young artists are driven into galleries instead of out into 
nature, and are sent, with minds still unformed, to centres of 



art, where they lose courage. And in all its forms history 
may render men unfit for life; in its monumental form by 
evoking the illusion that there are such things as fixed, 
recurring historical conjunctions, so that what has once 
been possible is now, in entirely altered conditions, possible 
again ; in its antiquarian form by awakening a feeling of 
piety for ancient, bygone things, which paralyses the man 
of action, who must always outrage some piety or other; 
finally in its critical form by giving rise to the depressing 
feeling that the very errors of the past, which we are striving 
to overcome, are inherited in our blood and impressed on 
our childhood, so that we live in a continual inner conflict 
between an old and a new nature. 

On this point, as on others already alluded to, Nietzsche's 
quarrel is ultimately with the broken-winded education of 
the present day. That education and historical education 
have in our time almost become synonymous terms, is to 
him a mournful sign. It has been irretrievably forgotten 
that culture ought to be what it was with the Greeks:.^ 
m otive, a p_rompting to resolution ;_ nowadays culture isj 
commonly described as inwardness, because it is a dead 
■ internal lump, which does not stir its possessor. The most 
/ *^ educated "_ people are _walking encyclopaedias. When 
they act, they do so in virtue of a universally approved, 
miserable convention, or else from simple barbarism. 

With fhis reflection, no doubt of general application, 
is connected a complaint which was bound to be evoked by 
modern literary Germany in particular; the complaint of 
the oppressive effect of the greatness of former times, as 
shown in the latter-day man's conviction that he is a late- 
comer, an after-birth of a greater age, who may indeed 
teach himself history, but can never produce it. 

Even philosophy, Nietzsche complains, with a side- 
/glance at the German universities, has been more and more 
^ transformed into the his tory of philosop hy^ a teaching of 
what everybody has thought about everything ; " a sort 
of harmless gossip between academic grey-beards and 
academic sucklings." It is boasted as a point of honour 


that freedom of thought exists in various countries. In 
reality it is only a poor sort of freedom. One may think 
in a hundred ways, but one may only act in one way — and 
that is the way that is called "culture" and is in reality 
"only a form, and what is more a bad form, a uniform." 

Nietzsche attacks the _yi£\yLJKhicll_re^rds th e historically / 
cultured person^ as the justest of alh We honour the 
historian who aims at pure knowledge, from which nothing 
follows. But there are many trivial truths, and it is a mis- 
fortune that whole battalions of inquirers should fling them- 
selves upon them, even if these narrow minds belong to 
honest men. The historian is looked upon as objective 
when he measures the past by the popular opinions of his 
own time, as subjective when he does not take these opinions 
for models. That man is thought best fitted to depict a 
period of the past, who is not in the least affected by that 
period. But only he who has a share in building up the 
future can grasp what the past has been, and only when 
transformed into a work of art can history arouse or even 
sustain instincts. 

As historical education is now conducted, the mass of 
impressions communicated is so great as to produce numb- 
ness, a feeling of being born old of an old stock — although 
less than thirty human lives, reckoned at seventy years 
each, divide us from the beginning of our era. And with 
this is connected the immense superstition of the value and 
significance of universal history. Schiller's phrase is ever- 
lastingly repeated : " The history of the world is the tribunal 
of the world," as though there could be any other historical 
tribunal than thought ; and the Hegelian view of history as 
the ever-clearer self-revelation of the godhead has obstinately 
held its own, only that it has gradually passed into sheer 
admiration of success, an approval of any and every fact, 
be it ;lever so brutal. But greatness has nothing to do with 
results or with success. Demosthenes, who spoke in vain, 
is greater than Philip, who was always victorious. Every- 
thing in our day is thought to be in order, if only it be an 
accomplished fact ; even when a man of genius dies in the 



fulness of his powers, proofs are forthcoming that he died 
at the right time. And the fragment of history we possess 
is entitled "the world process"; men cudgel their brains, 
like Eduard von Hartmann, in trying to find out its origin 
and final goal — which seems to be a waste of time. Why 
you exist, says Nietzsche with Sifren Kierkegaard, nobody 
in the world can tell you in advance ; but since you do exist, 
try to give your existence a meaning by setting up for your- 
self as lofty and noble a goal as you can. 

Significant of Nietzsche's aristocratic tendency, so marked 

later, is his anger with the deference paid by modern his-^ 

torians to the masses. Formerly, he argues, history was 

written from the standpoint of the rulers ; it was occupied 

exclusively with them, however mediocre or bad they might 

be. Now it has crossed over to the standpoint of the 

masses. But the masses — they are only to be regar ded as 

oneof _thre"e"things : either as~cbpies of great persona lities. 

bad copies, clumsily pr oduced in a poor nf^{^|prial^ o r as foils 

i & the giLdl, Ul ft l Y S Tly as their tnn\Z Ot herwise th ey are 

matter i'nr siTitisiin-ans io cigal withy who find so»on,lled 

historical laws in the instincts of the masses — aping, laziness, 

hunger and sexuaTTmpulse. What has set the mas"S~4n 

motion for any length of time is then called great. It is 

given the name of a historical power. W| ien. for example, 

the vulgar mob has app ropriated or^adapted to its needs some I 

> religious i^ea, has defended it stubbornly and dragged it 

/ along fo£ceniuries, then the originator of that idea is called 

great. There is the testimony of thousands of years for it, 

we are told. But — this is Nietzsche's and Kierkegaard's 

\^. idea— tJienobleslan_d highest does not affect the masses at 

all, either at the moment or later. Therefore the historical 

success of a religion, its toughness and persistence, witness 

against its founder's greatness rather than for it. 

When an instance is required of one of the few enter- 
prises in history that have been completely successful^ the 
Reformation is commonly chosen. Against the significance 
of .this success Nietzsche does not urge the facts usually 
quoted : its early secularisation by Luther; his compromises 


with those in power ; the interest of princes in emancipating 
themselves from the mastery of the Church and laying hands 
on its estates, while at the same time securing a submissive 
and dependent clergy instead of one independent of the 
State. He sees the chief cause of the success of the Reforma- 
tion in the uncultured state of the nations of northern 
Europe. Many attempts at founding new Greek religions 
came to naught in antiquity. Although men like Pythagoras, 
Plato, perhaps Empedocles, had qualifications as founders 
of religions, the individuals they had to deal with were far 
too diversified in their nature to be helped by a common 
doctrine of faith and hope. In contrast with this, the success 
of Luther's Reformation in the North was an indication that 
northern culture was behind that of southern Europe. 
The people either blindly obeyed a watchword from above, 
like a flock of sheep ; or, where conversion was a matter of 
conscience, it revealed how little individuality there was 
among a population which was found to be so homogeneous 
in its spiritual needs. In the same way, too, the original 
conversion of pagan antiquity was only successful on account 
of the abundant intermixture of barbarian with Roman 
blood which had taken place. The new doctrine was 
forced upon the masters of the world by barbarians and 

The reader now has examples of the arguments Nietzsche 
employs in support of his proposition that history is not so 
sound and strengthening an educational factor as is thought : 
only he who has learnt to know life and is equipped for action 
has use for history and is capable of applying it ; others are 
oppressed by it and rendered unproductive by being made 
to feel themselves late-comers, or are induced to worship 
success in every field. 

Nietzsche's contribution to this question is a plea against 
every sort of historical optimism; but he energetically 
repudiates the ordinary pessimism, which is the result 
of degenerate or enfeebled instincts — of decadence. He 
preaches with youthful enthusiasm the triumph of a tragic 
culture, introduced by an intrepid rising generation, in which 


the spirit of ancient Greece might be born again. He rejects 
the pessimism of Schopenhauer, for he aheady abhors all 
renunciation ; but he seeks a pessimism of healthiness, one 
derived from strength, from exuberant power, and he believes 
he has found it in the Greeks. He has developed this 
view in the learned and profound work of his youth. The 
Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism, in which he 
introduced two new terms, Apollonian and Dionysian. The 
two Greek deities of art, Apollo and Dionysus, denote the 
antithesis between plastic art and music. The former 
corresponds to dreaming, the latter to drunkenness. In 
dreams the forms of the gods first appeared to men ; dreams 
are the world of beauteous appearance. If, on the other 
hand, we look down into man's lowest depths, below the 
spheres of thought and imagination, we come upon a world 
of terror and rapture, the realm of Dionysus. Above reign 
beauty, measure and proportion; but underneath the 
profusion of Nature surges freely in pleasure and pain. 
Regarded from Nietzsche's later standpoint, the deeper motive 
of this searching absorption in Hellenic antiquity becomes 
apparent. Even at this early stage he suspects, in what 
passes for morality, a disparaging principle directed against 
Nature; he looks for its essential antithesis, and finds it 
in the purely artistic principle, farthest removed from 
Christianity, which he calls Dionysian. 

Our author's main psychological features are now clearly 
apparent. What kind of a nature is it that carries this 
savage hatred of philistinism even as far as to David Strauss ? 
An artist's nature, obviously. What kind of a writer is 
it who warns us with such firm conviction against the 
dangers of historical culture? A philologist obviously, 
who has experienced them in himself, has felt himself 
threatened with becoming a mere aftermath and tempted 
to worship historical success. What kind of a nature is it 
that so passionately defines culture as the worship of genius ? 
Certainly no Eckermann-nature, but an enthusiast, willing 
at the outset to obey where he cannot command, but quick 
to recognise his own masterful bias, and to see that humanity 


is far from having outgrown the ancient antithetical relation 
of commanding and obeying. The appearance of Napoleon 
is to him, as to many others, a proof of this ; in the joy that 
thrilled thousands, when at last they saw one who knew how 
to command. 

But in the sphere of ethics he is not disposed to preach 
obedience. On the contrary, constituted as he is, he sees 
the apathy and meanness of our modern morality in the 
fact that it still upholds obedience as the highest moral 
commandment, instead of the power of dictating to one's self 
one's own morality. 

His military schooling and participation in the war of 
1870-71 probably led to his discovery of a hard and manly 
quality in himself, and imbued him with an extreme abhor- 
rence of all softness and effeminacy. He turned aside with 
disgust from the morality of pity in Schopenhauer's philo- 
sophy and from the romantic-catholic element in Wagner's 
music, to both of which he had previously paid homage. He 
saw that he had transformed both masters according to his 
own needs, and he understood quite well the instinct of self- 
preservation that was here at work. The aspiring mind 
creates the helpers it requires. Thus he afterwards dedicated 
his book. Human, all-too-Human, which was published on 
Voltaire's centenary, to the "free spirits" among his con- 
temporaries; his dreams created the associates that he had 
not yet found in the flesh. 

The severe and painful illness, which began in his thirty- 
second year and long made him a recluse, detached him from 
all romanticism and freed his heart from all bonds of piety. 
It carried him far away from pessimism, in virtue of his 
proud thought that " a sufferer has no right to pessimism." 
This illnessimade a philosopher of him in a strict sense. 
His thoughts stole inquisitively along forbidden paths : This 
thing passes for a value. Can we not turn it upside-down ? 
This is regarded as good. Is it not rather evil ? — Is not God 
refuted ? But can we say as much of the devil ? — Arc we 
not deceived ? and deceived deceivers, all of us ? . . . 

And then out of this long sickliness arises a passionate 


desire for health, the joy of the convalescent in life, in light, 
in warmth, in freedom and ease of mind, in the range and 
horizon of thought, in " visions of new dawns," in creative 
capacity, in poetical strength. And he enters upon the 
lofty self-confidence and ecstasy of a long uninterrupted 


It is neither possible nor necessary to review here the long 
series of his writings. In calling attention to an author who 
is still unread, one need only throw his most characteristic 
thoughts and expressions into relief, so that the reader with 
little trouble may form an idea of his way of thinking and 
quality of mind. The task is here rendered difficult by 
Nietzsche's thinking in aphorisms, arid facilitated by his 
habit of emphasising every thought in such a way as to giVe 
it a startling appearance. 

English utilitarianism has met with little acceptance in 
Germany; among more eminent contemporary thinkers 
Eugen Diihring is its chief advocate ; Friedrich Paulsen also 
sides with the Englishmen. Eduard von Hartmann has 
attempted to demonstrate the impossibility of simultaneously 
promoting culture and happiness. Nietzsche finds new 
difficulties in an analysis of the concept of happiness. The 
object of utilitarianism is to procure humanity as much 
pleasure and as little of the reverse as possible. But what 
if pleasure and pain are so intertwined that he who wants 
all the pleasure he can get must take a corresponding amount 
of suffering into the bargain ? Clarchen's song contains the 
words : " Himmelhoch jauchzend, zum Tode betriibt." Who 
knows whether the latter is not the condition of the former ? 
The Stoics believed this, and, wishing to avoid pain, asked 
of life the minimum of pleasure. Probably it is equally 
unwise in our day to promise men intense joys, if they are to 
be insured against great sufferings. 

We see that Nietzsche transfers the question to the 
highest spiritual plane, without regard to the fact that the 


lowest and commonest misfortunes, such as hunger, physical 
ejjhaustion, excessive and unhealthy labour, yield no com- 
pensation in violent joys. Even if all pleasure be dearly 
bought, it does not follow that all pain is interrupted and 
counterbalanced by intense enjoyment. 

In accordance with his aristocratic bias he then attacks 
Bentham's proposition : the greatest possible happiness of 
the greatest possible number. The ideal was, of course, to 
procure happiness for everybody ; as this could not be done, 
the formula took the above shape. But why happiness for 
the greatest number ? We might imagine it for the best, 
the noblest, the most gifted ; and we may be permitted to 
ask whether moderate prosperity and moderate well-being 
arc preferable to the inequality of lot which acts as a goad, 
forcing culture ever upward. 

Then there is the doctrine of unselfishness. To be moral 
is to be unselfish. It is good to be so, we are told. But 
what does that mean — good ? Good for whom ? Not for 
the self-sacrificer, but for his neighbour. He who praises 
the virtue of unselfishness, praises something that is good 
for the community but harmful to the individual. And the 
neighbour who wants to be loved unselfishly is not himself 
unselfish. The fundamental contradiction in this morality 
is that it demands and commends a renunciation of the ego, 
for the benefit of another ego. 

At the outset the essential and invaluable element of all 
morality is, in Nietzsche's view, simply this, that it is a 
prolonged constraint. As language gains in strength and 
freedom by the constraint of verse, and as all the freedom 
and delicacy to be found in plastic art, music and dancing 
is the result of arbitrary laws, so also does human nature 
only attain its development under constraint. No violence 
is thereby done to Nature; this is the very nature of 

The essential point is that there should be obedience, for 
a long time and in the same direction. Thou shalt obey, 
some one or something, and for a long time — otherwise 
thou wilt come to grief ; this seems to be the moral impera- 



tive of Nature, which is certainly neither categorical 
(as Kant thought), nor addressed to the individual (Nature 
does not trouble about the individual), but seems to be 
addressed to nations, classes, periods, races — in fact, to 
mankind. On the other hand, all the morality that is 
addressed to the individual for his own good, for the sake of 
his own welfare, is reduced in this view to mere household 
remedies and counsels of prudence, recipes for curbing 
passions that might want to break out ; and all this morality 
is preposterous in form, because it addresses itself to all 
and generalises what does not admit of generalisation. 
Kant gave us a guiding rule with his categorical imperative. 
But this rule has failed us. It is of no use saying to us : Act 
as others ought to act in this case. For we know that there 
are not and cannot be such things as identical actions, but 
that every action is unique in its nature, so that any precept 
can only apply to the rough outside of actions. 

But what of the voice and judgment of conscience? The 
difficulty is that we have a conscience behind our conscience, 
an intellectual one behind the moral. We can tell that the 
judgment of So-and-So's conscience has a past history in his 
instincts, his original sympathies or antipathies, his experi- 
ence or want of experience. We can see quite well that our 
opinions of what is noble and good, our moral valuations, 
are powerful levers where action is concerned ; but we must 
begin by refining these opinions and independently creating 
for ourselves new tables of values. 

And as regards the ethical teachers' preaching of morality 
for all, this is every bit as empty as the gossip of individual 
society people about each other's morals. Nietzsche gives 
the mo ralists this good advice: that, instead of t rying to 
educate~Ihe hu man race, they should imitate the pe dagogues 
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, v^Eo~cQn- 
centfated their efforts ^ the education ot a:3ingle person ^ 
But as a rule the moral ranters are themselves quite 
uneducated persons, and their children seldom rise above 
moral mediocrity. 

He who feels that in his inmost being he cannot be com- 


pared with others, will be his own lawgiver. For one thing 
is needful : to give style to one's character. This art is 
practised by him who, with an eye for the strong and weak 
sides of his nature, removes from it one quality and another, 
and then by daily practice and acquired habit replaces 
them by others which become second nature to him; in 
other words, he puts himself under restraint in order by 
degrees to bend his nature entirely to his own law. Only 
thus does a man arrive at satisfaction with himself, and only 
thus does he become endurable to others. For the dis- 
satisfied and the unsuccessful as a rule avenge themselves 
on others. They absorb poison from everything, from their 
own incompetence as well as from their poor circumstances, 
and they live in a constant craving for revenge on those in 
whose nature they suspect harmony. Such people evet have 
virtuous precepts on their lips; the whole jingle of morality, 
seriousness, chastity, the claims of life ; and their hearts 
ever burn with envy of those who have become well balanced 
and can therefore enjoy life. 

- Tor millenniums morality meant obedience to custom, 
respect for inherited usage. The free, exceptional man was 
immoral, because he broke with the tradition which the 
others regarded with superstitious fear. Very commonly he 
took the same view and was himself seized by the terror he 
inspired. Thus a popular morality of custom was uncon- 
sciously elaborated by all who belonged to the tribe ; since 
fresh examples and proofs could always be found of the 
alleged relation between guilt and punishment — if you 
behave in such and such a way, it will go badly with you. 
Now, as it generally does go badly, the allegation was 
constantly confirmed; and thus popular morality, a pseudo- 
science on a level with popular medicine, continually gained 

Manners and customs represented the experiences of 
bygone generations concerning what was supposed to be 
useful or harmful; the sense of morality, however, does 
not attach to these experiences as such, but only to their age, 
their venerability and consequent incontestability. In the 


state of war in which a tribe existed in old times, threatened 
on every side, there was no greater gratification, under the 
sway of the strictest morality of custom, than cruelty. 
Cruelty is one of the oldest festal and triumphal joys of 
mankind. It was thought that the gods, too, might be 
gratified and festively disposed by offering them the sight of 
cruelties — and thus the idea insinuated itself into the world 
that voluntary self-torture, mortification and abstinence 
are also of great value, not as discipline, but as a sweet 
savour unto the Lord. 

Christianity as a religion of the past unceasingly practised 
and preached the torture of souls. Imagine the state of the 
mediaeval Christian, when he supposed he could no longer 
escape eternal torment. Eros and Aphrodite were in his 
imagination powers of hell, and death was a terror. 

To the morality of cruelty has succeeded that of pity. 
The morality of pity is lauded as unselfish, by Schopenhauer 
in particular. 

Eduard von Hartmann, in his thoughtful -work, Phdnomen- 
ologie des sittlichen Bewusstseins (pp. 217-240), has already 
shown the impossibility of regarding pity as the most 
important of moral incentives, to say nothing of its being 
the only one, as Schopenhauer would have it. Nietzsche 
attacks the morality of pity from other points of view. He 
shows it to be by no means unselfish. Another's misfortune 
affects us painfu lly and offends us — perhaps brands us as 
cowards if we do not go to his aiH^ OF it co ntams_a fiitit of 
a" possible danger to ourselves ; moreover, we feel joy in 
coiliparihg our own state with that of the unfortunate, joy 
when we can step in as the stronger, the helper. The help 
we afford gives us a feeling of happiness, or perhaps it merely 
rescues us from boredom. 

Pity in the form of actual fellow-suffering would be a 
weakness, nay, a misfortune, since it would add to the world's 
suffering. A man who seriously abandoned himself to 
sympathy with all the misery he found about him, would 
simply be destroyed by it. 

Among savages the thought of arousing pity is regarded 


with horror. Those who do so are despised. According to 
savage notions, to feel pity for a person is to despise him ; 
but they find no pleasure in seeing a contemptible person 
suffer. On the other hand, the sight of an enemy's suffering, 
when his pride does not forsake him in the midst of his 
torment — that is enjoyment, that excites admiration. 

The morality of pity is often preached in the formula, 
love thy neighbour. 

Nietzsche in the interests of his attack seizes upon the 
word neighbour. Not only does he demand, with Kierke- 
gaard, a setting-aside of morality for the sake of the end in 
view, but he is exasperated that the true nature of morality 
should be held to consist in a consideration of the immediate 
results of our actions, to which we are to conform. To 
what is narrow and pettifogging in this morality he opposes 
another, which looks beyond these immediate results and 
aspires, even by means that cause our neighbour pain, to 
more distant objects; such as the advancement of know- 
ledge, although this will lead to sorrow and doubt and evil 
passions in our neighbour. We need not on this account 
be without pity, but we may hold our pity captive for the 
sake of the object. 

And as it is now unreasonable to term pity unselfish and 
seek to consecrate it, it is equally so to hand over a series 
of actions to the evil conscience, merely because they have 
been maligned as egotistical. What has happened in recent 
times in this connection is that the instinct of self-denial 
and self-sacrifice, everything altruistic, has been glorified 
as if it were the supreme value of morality. 

The English moralists, who at present dominate Europe, 
explain the origin of ethics in the following way : Unselfish 
actions were originally called good by those who were their 
objects and who benefited by them ; afterwards this original 
reason for praising them was forgotten, and unselfish actions 
came to be regarded as good in themselves. 

According to a statement of Nietzsche himself it was a 
work by a German author with English leanings, Dr. Paul 
R6e's Der Ursi)rung der moralischen Empfindungen (Chem- 


nitz, 1877), which provoked him to such passionate and 
detailed opposition that he had to thank this book for the 
impulse to clear up and develop his own ideas on the 

The surprising part of it, however, is this : Dissatisfaction 
with his first book caused Ree to write a second and far 
more important work on the same subject — Die Entsiehung 
des Gewissens (Berlin, 1885) — in which the point of view 
offensive to Nietzsche is abandoned and several of the 
leading ideas advanced by the latter against Ree are set 
forth, supported by a mass of evidence taken from various 
authors and races of men. 

The two philosophers were personally acquainted. I 
knew them both, but had no opportunity of questioning 
either on this matter. It is therefore impossible for me to 
say which of the two influenced the other, or why Nietzsche 
in 1887 alludes to his detestation of the opinions put forward 
by Ree in 1 877, without mentioning how near the latter had 
come to his own view in the work published two years 

Ree had already adduced a number of examples to show 
that the most diverse peoples of antiquity knew no other 
moral classification of men than that of nobles and common 
people, powerful and weak; so that the oldest meaning of 
good both in Greece and Iceland was noble, mighty, rich. 

Nietzsche builds his whole theory on this foundation. 
His train of thought is this — 

The critical word good is not due to those to whom gc od- 
ness has been shown. The oldest definition was this : the- 
noble, the mightier, higher-placed and high-minded held 
themselves and their actions to be good — of the first rank 
— in contradistinction to everything low and low-minded. 
Noble, in the sense of the class-consciousness of a higher 
caste, is the primary concept from which develops good 
in the sense of spiritually aristocratic. The lowly are 
designated as bad (not evil). Bad does not acquire its 
unqualified depreciatory meaning till much later. In the 
mouth of the people it is a laudatory word; the German 


word schlecht is identical with schlicht (cf. schlechtweg and 
schlechterdings) . _ 

The ruling caste call themselves sometimes simply the 
Mighty, sometimes the Truthful ; like the Greek nobility, 
whose mouthpiece Theognis was. With him beautiful, l 
good and noble always have the sense of aristocratic. The 
aristocratic moral valuation proceeds from a triumphant 
affirmation, a yea-saying, which we find in the Homeric 
heroes: We, the noble, beautiful and brave — we are the 
good, the beloved of the gods. These are strong men, 
charged with force, who delight in warlike deeds, to whom, 
in other words, happiness is activity. 

It is of course unavoidable that these nobles should 
misjudge and despise the plebeian herd they dominate. 
Yet as a rule there may be traced in them a pity for the 
downtrodden caste, for the drudge and beast of burden, an 
indulgence towards those to whom happiness is rest, the 
Sabbath of inactivity. 

Among the lower orders, on the other hand, an image of 
the ruling caste distorted by hatred and spite is necessarily 
current. In this distortion there lies a revenge.* 

In opposition to the aristocratic valuation (good = noble, 
beautiful, happy, favoured by the gods) the slave morality 
then is this : The wretched alone are the good; those who 
suffer and are heavy laden, the sick and the ugly, they are 
the only pious ones. On the other hand, you, ye noble and 
rich, are to all eternity the evil, the cruel, the insatiate, the 
ungodly, and after death the damned. Whereas noble 
.morality was the manifestation of great self-esteem, a con- 
tinual yea-saying, slave morality is a continual Nay, a Thou 
shalt not, a negation. 

To the noble valuation ^oo<^ — bad (bad = worthless) corre- 
sponds the antithesis of slave morality,^oo</ — evil. And who 
are the evil in this morality of the oppressed ? Precisely 
the same who in the other morality were the good. 

Let any one read the Icelandic sagas and examine the 

* Nietzsche supports his hypothesis by derivations, some doubtful, 
others incorrect ; but their value is immaterial. 


morality of the ancient Northmen, and then compare with 
it the complaints of other nations about the vikings' mis- 
deeds. It will be seen that these aristocrats, whose conduct 
in many ways stood high, were no better than beasts of 
prey in dealing with their enemies. They fell upon the 
inhabitants of Christian shores like eagles upon lambs. 
One may say they followed an eagle ideal. But then wc 
cannot wonder that those who were exposed to such fearful 
attacks gathered round an entirely opposite moral ideal, 
that of the lamb. 

In the third chapter of his Utilitarianism^ Stuart Mill 
attempts to prove that the sense of justice has developed 
from the animal instinct of making reprisal for an injury or 
a loss. In an essay on "the transcendental satisfaction of 
the feeling of revenge" (supplement to the first edition of 
the Werth des Lebens) Eugen Diihring has followed him in 
trying to establish the whole doctrine of punishment upon 
the instinct of retaliation. In his Phdnomenologie Eduard 
von Hartmann shows how this instinct strictly speaking 
never does more than involve a new suffering, a new offence, 
to gain external satisfaction for the old one, so that the 
principle of requital can never be any distinct principle. 

Nietzsche makes a violent, passionate attempt to refer 
the sum total of false modern morality, not to the instinct 
of requital or to the feeling of revenge in general, but to the 
narrower form of it which we call spite, envy and rancune. 
What he calls slave morality is to him purely spite-morality ; 
and this spite-morality gave new names to all ideals. Thu s 
impotence, which offers no reprisal, became goodness; 
craven baseness Ijecame iTumilify ; submission to him who 
was feared became obedience; ina bility"to^a5sefrone^s_§elf 
became xehjctaaceto-asseri;. .one's self, became forgiveness, 
love of one's enemies. Misery became a distinction; God 
chastens whom he loves. Or it became a preparation, a 
trial and a training; even more — something that will one 
day be made good with interest, paid back in bliss. And 
the vilest underground creatures, swollen with hate and spite, 
were heard to say : We, the good, we are the righteous. 


They did not hate their enemies — they hated injustice, 
ungodhness. What they hoped for was not the sweets of 
revenge, but the victory of righteousness. Those they had 
left to love on earth were their brothers and sisters in hatred, 
whom they called their brothers and sisters in love. The 
future state they looked for was called the coming of their 
kingdom, of God's kingdom. Until it arrives they live on 
in faith, hope and love. 

If Nietzsche's design in this picture was to strike at 
historical Christianity, he has given us — as any one may 
see — a caricature in the spirit and style of the eighteenth 
century. But that his description hits off a certain type of 
the apostles of spite-morality cannot be denied, and rarely 
has all the self-deception that may lurk beneath moral 
preaching been more vigorously unmasked. (Compare 
Beyond Good and Evil and The Genealogy of Morals.) ^ 

Nietzsche would define man as an animal that can make 
and keep promises. 

He sees the real nobility of man in his capacity for pro- 
mising something, answering for himself and undertaking a 
responsibility — since man, with the mastery of himself 
which this capacity implies, necessarily acquires in addition 
a mastery over external circumstances and over other 
creatures, whose will is not so lasting. 

The consciousness of this responsibility is what the 
sovereign man calls his conscience. 

What, then, is the past history of this responsibility, 
this conscience? It is a long and bloody one. Frightful 
means have been used in the course of history to train 
men to remember what they have once promised or willed, 
tacitly or explicitly. For milleniums man was confined 
in the strait-jacket of the morality of custom, and by such 

* Where Nietzsche's words are quoted, in the course of this essay, 
considerable use has been made of the complete English translation 
of his works, edited by Dr. Oscar Levy. — Tr. 



punishments as stoning, breaking on the wheel or burning, 
by burying the sinner ahve, tearing him asunder with 
horses, throwing him into the water with a stone on his 
neck or in a sack, by scourging, flaying and branding — by 
all these means a long memory for what he had promised 
was burnt into that forgetful animal, man ; in return for 
which he was permitted to enjoy the advantages of being 
a member of society. 

According to Nietzsche's hypothesis, the consciousness 
of giiiUj^lS^^^'^^'^^ Fimpl}" 1^ r""''^^'lliinnffiii' '^^ ^ "'^^^ The 
relation of contract between creditor and debtor, which is 
as old as the earliest primitive forms of human intercourse 
in buying, selling, bartering, etc. — this is the relation that 
underlies it. The debtor (in order to inspire confidence in 
his promise of repayment) pledges something he possesses : 
his liberty, his woman, his life ; or he gives his creditor the 
right of cutting a larger or smaller piece of flesh from his 
body, according to the amount of the debt. (The Roman 
Code of the Twelve Tables; again in 77?^ Merchant of 

The logic of this, which has become somewhat strange 
to us, is as follows : as compensation for his loss the creditor 
is granted a kind of voluptuous sensation, the delight of 
being able to exercise his power upon the powerless. 

The reader may find evidence in Ree {op. ctt., p. 13 flF.) 
for Nietzsche's dictum, that for milleniums this was the 
view of mankind : The sight of suffering does one good. 

The infliction of suffering on another is a feast at 
which the fortunate one swells with the joy of power. 
We may also find evidence in R^e that the instincts of pity, 
fairness and clemency, which were afterwards glorified 
as virtues, were originally regarded almost everywhere 
as morally worthless, nay, as indications of weakness. 

Buying and selling, as well as everything psychologically 
connected therewith and older than any form of social 
organisation, contain the germs, in Nietzsche's view, of 
compensation, assessing, justice and duty. Man soon 
became proud of himself as a being who measures values. 



One of the earliest generalisations was this : Everything 
has its price. And the thought that everything can be 
paid for was the oldest and most naive canon of justice. 

Now the whole of society, as it gradually develops, 
stands in the same relation to its members as the creditor 
to the debtor. Society protects its members; they are 
assured against the state of outlawry — on condition that 
they do not break their pledges to the community. He 
who breaks his word — the criminal — is relegated to the 
outlawry involved in exclusion from society. 

As Nietzsche, who is so exclusively taken up by the 
psychological aspect, discards all accessories of scholarship, 
it is impossible to examine directly the accuracy of his 
assertions. The historical data will be found collected in 
Ree's paragraphs on resentment and the sense of justice, 
and in his section on the buying-off of revenge, i.e., settle- 
ment by fines. 

Other thinkers besides Nietzsche (such as E. von Hart- 
mann and Ree) have combated the view that the idea of 
justice has its origin in a state of resentment, and Nietzsche 
has scarcely brought to light any fresh and convincing 
proof ; but what is characteristic of him as a writer is the 
excess of personal passion with which he attacks this view, 
obviously because it is connected with the reasoning of 
modern democracy. 

In many a modern cry for justice there rings a note of 
pUbeian spite and envy. Involuntarily many a modern 
sS[?.nt of middle-class or lower middle-class origin has 
attributed an unwarrantable importance to the atavistic 
emotions prevalent among those who have been long 
oppressed : hatred and rancour, spite and thirst for 

Nietzsche does not occupy himself for an instant with 
the state of things in which revenge does duty as the sole 
punitive justice ; for the death feud is not a manifestation 
of the thrall's hatred of his master, but of ideas of honour 
among equals. He dwells exclusively on the contrast 
between a ruling caste and a caste of slaves, and shows a 



constantly recurring indignation with doctrines which have 
caused the progressive among his contemporaries to look 
with indulgence on the instincts of the populace and with 
suspicion or hostility on master spirits. His purely personal 
characteristic, however, the unphilosophical and tempera- 
mental in him, is revealed in the trait that, while he has 
nothing but scorn and contempt for the down-trodden 
class or race, for the slave morality resulting from its sup- 
pressed rancour, he positively revels in the ruling caste's 
delight in its power, in the atmosphere of healthiness, 
freedom, frankness and truthfulness in which it lives. 
Its acts of tyranny he defends or excuses. The image it 
creates for itself of the slave caste is to him far less falsified 
than that which the latter forms of the master caste. 

Nor can there be serious question of any real injustice 
committed by this caste. For there is no such thing as 
right or wrong in itself. The infliction of an injury, forcible 
subjection, exploitation or annihilation is not in itself a 
wrong, cannot be such, since life in its essence, in its primary 
functions, is nothing but oppression, exploitation and 
annihilation. Conditions of justice can never be anything 
but exceptional conditions, that is, as limitations of the 
real desire of life, the object of which is power. 

"Nietzsche re£laces— Schopenhauer's Will to Life and 
lL>2LTvvin's.hh:2tggleJw!^'Exisien^ to Power. In 

,his -View the hghHs^not jForJife — bare existence — but for 
power. And he has a great deal to say — somewhat beside 
the mark — of the mean and paltry conditions those English- 
men must have had in view who set up the modest con- 
ception of the struggle for life. It appears to him as if 
they had imagined a world in which everybody is glad if 
he can only keep body and soul together. But life is 
only an expression for the minimum. In itself lif£„sgcks, 
not self-preservation alone, but self-increase, and this is 
precisely the" "Wiir"lo power." It is therefore obvious 
that there is no differerice of principle between the new 
catchword and the old ; for the struggle for existence 
necessarily leads to the conflict of forces and the fight for 


power. Now a system of justice, seen from this standpoint, 
is a factor in the conflict of forces. Conceived as supreme, 
as a remedy for every kind of struggle, it would be a principle 
hostile to life and destructive of the future and progress of 

Something similar was in the mind of Lassalle, when he 
declared that the standpoint of justice was a bad stand- 
point in the life of nations. What is significant of Nietzsche 
is his love of fighting for its own sake, in contrast to the 
modern humanitarian view. \ To Nietzsche the greatness of 
a movement is to be measured by the sacrifices it demands. 
The hygiene which keeps alive millions of weak an d useless 
beings who ough t ratf|f;r fo HiPj is tr> hiiqfy no tnic pro press. 
A dead level of med iocre happiness assured to the largest 
p ossible majority of the miserable nrf^-^JMrt^f^ 'y^r^ nr.xiToHoyc 
c all men ^ wrtnlH h^ fr> Tiim nrt frnp progrcss. But to him, 
as to Rggan, the r^^ri ng nf a human species h igher and 
strQDggiM han that which now surrounds us (the " Super- 
man_|^}^ven if this could only be achieved by the sacrifice 
di masses of such men as we know, would be a grea t^ a real 
prog-ess. Nietzsche's visions, put forth in all seriousness, 
of the training of the Superman and his assumption of the 
mastery of the world, bear so strong a resemblance to 
Kenan's dreams, thrown out half in jest, of a new Asgard, 
a regular manufactory of yEsir (Dialogues philosophiqueSj, 
117), that we can scarcely doubt the latter's influence. 
But what Renan wrote under the overwhelming impression 
of the Paris Commune, and, moreover, in the form of 
dialogue, allowing both pro and con. to be heard, has 
crystallised in Nietzsche into dogmatic conviction. One 
is therefore surprised and hurt to find that Nietzsche never 
mentions Renan otherwise than grudgingly. He scarcely 
alludes to the aristocratic quality of his intellect, but he 
speaks with repugnance of that respect for the gospel of 
the humble which Renan everywhere discloses, and which 
is undeniably at variance with his hope of the foundation 
of a breeding establishment for supermen. 

Renan, and after him Taine, turned against the almost 


religious feelings which were long entertained in the new 
Europe towards the first French Revolution. Renan 
regretted the Revolution betimes on national grounds ; 
Taine, who began by speaking warmly of it, changed his 
mind on closer inquiry. Nietzsche follows in their footsteps. 
It is natural for modern authors, who feel themselves to 
be the children of the Revolution, to sympathise with the 
men of the great revolt ; and certainly the latter do not 
receive their due in the present anti-revolutionary state of 
feeling in Europe. But these authors, in their dread of 
what in political jargon is called Caesarism, and in their 
superstitious belief in mass movements, have overlooked 
the fact that the greatest revolutionaries and liberators 
are not the united small, but the few great ; not the small 
ungenerous, but the great and generous, who are willing to 
bestow justice and well-being and intellectual growth upon 
the rest. 

There are two classes of revolutionary spirits : those who 
feel instinctively drawn to Brutus, and those who equally 
instinctively are attracted by Caesar. Caesar is the great 
type ; neither Frederick the Great nor Napoleon could 
claim more than a part of his qualities. The modern 
poetry of the 'forties teems with songs in praise of Brutus, but 
no poet has sung Caesar. Even a poet with so little love 
for democracy as Shakespeare totally failed to recognise 
his greatness ; he gave us a pale caricature of his figure and 
followed Plutarch in glorifying Brutus at his expense. 
Even Shakespeare could not see that Cassar placed a very 
different stake on the table of life from that of his paltry 
murderer. Caesar was descended from Venus; in his form 
was grace. His mind had the grand simplicity which is 
the mark of the greatest; his nature was nobility. He, 
from whom even to-day all supreme power takes its name, 
had every attribute that belongs to a commander and ruler 
of the highest rank. Only a few men of the Italian Renais- 
sance have reached such a height of genius. His life was 
a guarantee of all the progress that could be accomplished 
in those days. Brutus's nature was doctrine, his distinguish- 


ing mark the narrowness that seeks to bring back dead 
conditions and that sees omens of a call in the accident of 
a name. His style was dry and laborious, his mind unfertile. 
His vice was avarice, usury his delight. To him the pro- 
vinces were conquests beyond the pale. He had five 
senators of Salamis starved to death because the town 
could not pay. And on account of a dagger-thrust, which 
accomplished nothing and hindered nothing of what it 
was meant to hinder, this arid brain has been made a sort 
of genius of liberty, merely because men have failed to 
understand what it meant to have the strongest, richest 
and noblest nature invested with supreme power. 

From what has been said above it will easily be under- 
stood that Nietzsche derives justice entirely from the active 
emotions, since in his view revengeful feelings are always 
low. He does not dwell on this point, however. Older 
writers had seen in the instinct of retaliation the origin 
of punishment. Stuart Mill, in his Utilitarianism, derived 
justice from already established punitive provisions Q'ustum 
from jussum), which were precautionary measures, not 
reprisals. Ree, in his book on the Origin of Conscience, 
defended the kindred proposition that punishment is not 
a consequence of the sense of justice, but vice versa. The 
English philosophers in general derive the bad conscience 
from punishment. The value of the latter is supposed to 
consist in awakening a sense of guilt in the delinquent. 

Against this Nietzsche enters a protest. He maintains 
that punishment only hardens and benumbs a man ; in 
fact, that the judicial procedure itself prevents the criminal 
from regarding his conduct as reprehensible; since he is 
made to witness precisely the same kind of acts as those 
he has committed — spying, entrapping, outwitting and 
torturing — all of which are sanctioned when exercised 
against him in the cause of justice) For long ages, too, no 
notice whatever was taken of the criminal's " sin " ; he 
was regarded as harmful, not guilty, and looked upon as 
a piece of destiny ; and the criminal on his side took his 
punishment as a piece of destiny which had overtaken him, 


and bore it with the same fataHsm with which the Russians 
suffer to this day. In general we may say that punishment 
tames the man, but does not make him " better." 

^The bad conscience, then, is still unexplained. Nietzsche 
proposes the following brilliant hypothesis : The bad 
conscience is the deep-seated morbid condition that de- 
clared itself in man under the stress of the most radical 
change he has ever experienced — when he found himself 
imprisoned in perpetuity within a society which was in- 
violable. All the strong and savage instincts such as 
adventurousness, rashness, cunning, rapacity, lust of power, 
which till then had not only been honoured, but actually 
encouraged, were suddenly put down as dangerous, and 
by degrees branded as immoral and criminal. Creatures 
adapted to a roving life of war and adventure suddenly 
, saw all their instincts classed as worthless, nay, as for- 
\ bidden. An immense despondency, a dejection without 
vparallel, then took possession of them. And all these 
instincts that were not allowed an outward vent, turned 
^nwards on the man himself — feelings of enmity, cruelty, 
delight in change, in hazard, violence, persecution, de- 
struction — and thus the bad conscience originated. 
^ When the State came into existence — not by a social 
contract, as Rousseau and his contemporaries assumed — 
but by a frightful tyranny imposed by a conquering race 
upon a more numerous, but unorganised population, then 
all the latter's instinct of freedom turned inwards ; its 
active force and will to power were directed against man 
himself. And this was the soil which bore such ideals 
of beauty as self-denial, self-sacrifice, unselfishness. The 
delight in self-sacrifice is in its origin a phase of cruelty ; the 
~~bad conscience is a will for self-abuse. 

Then by degrees guilt came to be felt as a debt, to the 

{ past, to the ancestors ; a debt that had to be paid back in 

\sacrifices — at first of nourishment in its crudest sense — in 

unarks of honour and in obedience ; for all customs, as the 

jwork of ancestors, are at the same time their commands.* 

^ * Compare Lassalle's theory of the original religion of Rome. 
G. Brandes Ferdinand Lassalle (London and New York, 1911), 
pp. 76 fif. 


There is a constant dread of not giving them enough ; 
the firstborn, human and animal, are sacrificed to them. 
Fear of the founder grows in proportion as the power of 
the race increases. Sometimes he becomes transformed 
into a god, in which the origin of the god from fear is 
/_clearly seen. * 

""""l^he. feehng of owing a debt to the deity steadily grew 
through the centuries, until the recognition of the Christian 
deity as universal god brought about the greatest possible 
outburst of guilty feeling. Only in our day is any noticeable 
diminution of this sense of guilt to be traced ; but where 
the consciousness of sin reaches its culminating point, 
there the bad conscience eats its way like a cancer, till 
the sense of the impossibility of paying the debt — atoning 
for the sin — is supreme and with it is combined the idea 
of eternal punishment. A curse is now imagined to have 
been laid upon the founder of the race (Adam), and all 
sin becomes original sin. Indeed, the evil principle is 
attributed to Nature herself, from whose womb man has 
sprung — until we arrive at the paradoxical expedient in 
which tormented Christendom has found a temporary 
consolation for two thousand years : God offers himself 
for the guilt of mankind, pays himself in his own flesh 
and blood. 

^''-'''What has here happened is that the instinct of cruelty, 

which has turned inwards, has become self-torture, and 

all man's animal instincts have been reinterpreted as guilt 

1 towards God. Every Nay man utters to his natnre, to 

jhis real being, he flings out as a Yea, an affirmation of 

i reality applied to God's sanctity, his capacity of judge 

/ and executioner, and in the next place to eternity, the 

^^* Beyond," pain without end, eternal punishment in hell. 

In order rightly to understand the origin of ascetic ideals, 

we must, moreover, consider that the earliest generations 

of spiritual and contemplative natures lived under a fearful 

pressure of contempt on the part of the hunters and 

warriors. The unwarlike element in them was despicable. 

They had no other means of holding their own than that 


of inspiring fear. This they could only do by cruelty to 
themselves, mortification and self-discipline in a hermit's 
life. As priests, soothsayers and sorcerers they then struck 
superstitious terror into the masses. The ascetic priest 
is the unsightly larva from which the healthy philosopher 
has emerged. Under the dominion of the priests our earth 
became the ascetic planet ; a squalid den careering through 
space, peopled by discontented and arrogant creatures, 
who were disgusted with life, abhorred their globe as a vale 
of tears, and who in their envy and hatred of beauty and 
joy did themselves as much harm as possible. 

Nevertheless the self-contradiction we find in asceticism — 
life turned against life — is of course only apparent. In 
reality the ascetic ideal corresponds to a decadent life's 
profound need of healing and tending. It is an ideal that 
points to depression and exhaustion ; by its help life 
struggles against death. It is life's device for self-preserva- 
tion. Its necessary antecedent is a morbid condition in 
the tamed human being, a disgust with life, coupled with 
the desire to be something else, to be somewhere else, 
raised to the highest pitch of emotion and passion. 

The ascetic priest is the embodiment of this very wish. 
By its power he keeps the whole herd of dejected, faint- 
hearted, despairing and unsuccessful creatures fast to life. 
The very fact that he himself is sick makes him their born 
herdsman. If he were healthy, he would turn away with 
loathing from all this eagerness to re-label weakness, envy, 
Pharisaism, and false morality as virtue. But, being 
himself sick, he is called upon to be an attendant in the 
great hospital of sinners — the Church. He is constantly 
occupied with sufferers who seek the cause of their pain 
outside themselves ; he teaches the patient that the guilty 
cause of his pain is himself. Thus he diverts the rancour 
of the abortive man and makes him less harmful, by letting 
a great part of his resentment recoil on himself. The ascetic 
priest cannot properly be called a physician ; he mitigates 
suffering and invents consolations of every kind, both 
narcotics and stimulants. 


The problem was to contend with fatigue and despair, 
which had seized Hke an epidemic upon great masses of 
men. Many remedies were tried. First, it was sought to 
depress vitaHty to the lowest degree : not to will, not to 
desire, not to work, and so on ; to become apathetic 
(Pascal's // faut s'abeiir). The object was sanctification, 
a hypnotising of all mental life, a relaxation of every pur- 
pose, and consequently freedom from pain. In the next 
place, mechanical — ar.tivity was em ployed as a narcotic 
against states of depression : the " blessing of labour." 
Thcascetic priest, who has to deal chiefly With sufferers 
of the poorer classes, reinterprets the task of the unfortunate 
drudge for him, making him see in it a benefit. Then again, 
the prescription of a little, easily accessible joy, is a favourite 
remedy for depression ; such as gladdening others, helping 
them in love of one's neighbour. Finally, the decisive 
cure is to organise all the sick into an immense hospital, 
to found a congregation of them. The disinclination that 
accompanies the sense of weakness is thereby combated, 
since the mass feels strong in its inner cohesion. 

Bu t t h e chief reme dy of the ascetic priest was, after all, 

his rB intf>rprpHtir>n pf ^ he fcpling- r-tf guilt aS "sin." The 

inner suffering was a punishment. The sick man was the 
sinner. Nietzsche compares the unfortunate who receives 
this explanation of his qualms with a hen round which 
a chalk circle has been drawn : he cannot get out. Wher- 
ever we look, for century after century, we see the hypnotic 
gaze of the sinner, staring — in spite of Job — at guilt as 
the only cause of suffering. Everywhere the evil conscience 
and the scourge and the hairy shirt and weeping and gnash- 
ing of teeth, and the cry of "More pain! More pain!" 
Everything served the ascetic ideal. And then arose 
epidemics like those of St. Vitus's dance and the flagellants, 
witches' hysteria and the wholesale delirium of extravagant 
sects (which still lingers in otherwise beneficially disciplined 
bodies such as the Salvation Army). 

The ascetic ideal has as yet no real assailants ; there is 
no decided prophet of a new ideal. Inasmuch as since 


the time of Copernicus science has constantly tended to 
deprive man of his earlier belief in his own importance, 
its influence is rather favourable to asceticism than other- 
wise. At present the only real enemies and underminers 
of the ascetic ideal are to be found in the charlatans of 
that ideal, in its hypocritical champions, who excite and 
maintain distrust of it. 

As the senselessness of suffering was felt to be a curse, 
the ascetic ideal gave it a meaning ; a meaning which brought 
a new flood of suffering with it, but which was better than 
none. In our day a new ideal is in process of formation, 
which sees in suffering a condition of life, a condition of 
happiness, and which in the name of a new culture combats 
all that we have hitherto called culture. 


Among Nietzsche's works there is a s.trange book which 
~ bears the title, TAus Spake Zarathustra. It consists of 
four parts, written during the years 1 883-85, each part 
in about ten days, and conceived chapter by chapter on 
long walks — "with a feeling of inspiration, as though 
each sentence had been shouted in my ear," as Nietzsche 
wrote in a private letter. 

The central figure and something of the form are borrowed 
from the Persian Avesta. Zarathustra is the mystical 
founder of a religion whom we usually call Zoroaster. His 
religion is the religion of purity ; his wisdom is cheerful 
and dauntless, as that of one who laughed at his birth ; 
his nature is light and flame. The eagle and the serpent, 
who share his mountain cave, the proudest and the wisest 
of beasts, are ancient Persian symbols. 

This work contains Nietzsche's doctrine in the form, so 

to speak, of religion. It is the Koran, or rather the Avesta, 

which he was impelled to leave — obscure and profound, 

high-soaring and remote from reality, prophetic and intoxi- 

X Gated with the future, filled to the brim with the personality 

- of its author, who again is entirely filled with himself. 



Among modern books that have adopted this tone and 
employed this symboHc and allegorical style may be men- 
tioned Mickiewicz's Book of the Polish Pilgrims, Slowacki's 
Anheliy and The IVords of a Believer, by Lamennais, who 
was influenced by Mickiewicz. A newer work, known to 
Nietzsche, is Carl Spitteler's Prometheus and Epimetheus 
(1881). But all these books, with the exception of 
Spitteler's, are biblical in their language. Zarathustra, on 
the other hand, is a book of edi fication^j pr frpp spirit^ -^ / 

Nietzsche himself gave this book the highest place among 
his writings. I do not share this view. The imaginative 
power which sustains it is not sufficiently inventive, and 
a certain monotony is inseparable from an archaistic 
presentment by means of types. 

But it is a good book for those to have recourse to who 
are unable to master Nietzsche's purely speculative works ; 
it contains all his fundamental ideas in the form of poetic 
i:£cital^ Its merit is a style that from the first word to \ 
the last is full-toned, sonorous and powerful ; now and then / 
rather unctuous in its combative judgments and condemna- [ 
tions ; always expressive of self-joy, nay, self-intoxication, I 
but rich in subtleties as in jjidacities, sure, and at times j 
great. Behind this style lies a mood as of calm mountain 
air, so light, so ethereally pure, that no infection, no bacteria 
can live in it — no noise, no stench, no dust assails it, nor 
does any path lead up. 

Clear sky above, open sea at the mountain's foot, and 
over all a heaven of light, an abyss of light, an azure bell, 
a vaulted silence above roaring waters and mighty mountain- 
chains. On the heights Zarathustra is alone with himself, 
drawing in the pure air in full, deep breaths, alone with 
the rising sun, alone with the heat of noon, which does 
not impair the freshness, alone with the voices of the/ 
gleaming stars at night. 

— A good, deep book it is. A book that is bright in its ^ 
joy of life, dark in its riddles, a book for spiritual mountain- 
climbers and dare-devils and for the few who are practised 
in the great contempt of man that loathes the crowd, and 


in the great love of man that only loathes so deeply because 
it has a vision of a higher, braver humanity, which it seeks 
to rear and train. 

Zarathustra has sought the refuge of his cave out of 
disgust with petty happiness and petty virtues. He has 
seen that men's doctrine of virtue and contentment makes 
them ever smaller : their goodness is in the main a wish 
that no one may do them any harm ; therefore they fore- 
stall (the others by doing them a little good. This is 
cowardice and is called virtue. True, they are at the same 
time quite ready to attack and injure, but only those who 
are once for all at their mercy and with whom it is safe 
to take liberties. This is called bravery and is a still 
baser cowardice. But when Zarathustra tries to drive 
out the cowardly devils in men, the cry is raised against 
him, " Zarathustra is godless." 

He is lonely, for all his former companions have become 
apostates ; their young hearts have grown old, and not old 
even, only weary and slothful, only commonplace — and 
this they call becoming pious again. " Around light and 
liberty they once fluttered like gnats and young poets, 
and already are they mystifiers, and mumblers and molly- 
coddles." They have understood their age. They chose 
their time well. "For now do all night-birds again fly 
abroad. Now is the hour of all that dread the light." 

Zarathustra loathes the great city as a hell for anchorites' 
thoughts. "All lusts and vices are here at home ; but here 
are also the virtuous, much appointable and appointed 
virtue. Much appointable virtue with scribe-fingers and 
hardy sitting-flesh and waiting-flesh, blessed with little 
breast-stars and padded, haunchless daughters. Here is 
also much piety and much devout spittle-licking and honey- 
slavering before the God of hosts. For * from on high ' 
drippeth the star and the gracious spittle ; and upward 
iongeth every starless bosom." 
/ And Zarathustra loathes the State, loathes it as Henrik 
Ibsen did and more profoundly than he. 
To him the State is the coldest of all cold monsters. 


Its fundamental lie is that it is the people. No ; creative 
spirits were they who created the people and gave it a 
faith and a love ; thus they served life ; every people is 
peculiar to itself, but the State is everywhere the same. 
The State is to Zarathustra that "where the slow suicide 
of all is called life." The State is for the many too many. 
Only where the State leaves off does the man who is not 
superfluous begin ; the man who is a bridge to the Superman. 

From states Zarathustra has fled up to his mountain, into 
his cave. 

In forbearance and pity lay his greatest danger. Rich 
in the little lies of pity he dwelt among men. 

" Stung from head to foot by poisonous flies and hollowed 
out like a stone by many drops of malice, thus did I sit 
among them, saying to myself : Innocent is everything 
petty of its pettiness. Especially they who call themselves 
the good, they sting in all innocence, they lie in all innocence ; 
how could they be just towards me ? 

" He who dwelleth among the good, him teacheth pity 
to lie. Pity breedeth bad air for all free souls. For the 
stupidity of the good is unfathomable. 

" Their stiff wise men did I call wise, not stiff. Their 
grave-diggers did I call searchers and testers — thus did I 
learn to confound speech. The grave-diggers dig for them- 
selves diseases. From old refuse arise evil exhalations. 
Upon the mountains one should live." 

And with blessed nostrils he breathes again the freedom 
of the mountains. His nose is now released from the smell 
of all that is human. There sits Zarathustra with old broken 
tables of the law around him and new half-written tables, 
awaiting his hour ; the hour when the lion shall come with 
the flock of doves, strength in company with gentleness, 
to do homage to him. And he holds out to men a new 
table, upon which such maxims as these are written — 

Spare not thy neighbour ! My great love for the remotest 
ones commands it. Thy neighbour is something that must 
be surpassed. 


Say not : I will do unto others as I would they should 
do unto me. What thou doest, that can no man do to thee 
again. There is no requital. 

Do not believe that thou mayst not rob. A right which 
thou canst seize upon, shalt thou never allow to be given thee. 

Beware of good men. They never speak the truth. 
For all that they call evil — the daring venture, the pro- 
longed distrust, the cruel Nay, the deep disgust with men, 
the will and the power to cut into the quick — all this must 
be present where a truth is to be born. 

All the past is at man's mercy. But, this being so, it 
might happen that the rabble became master and drowned 
all time in its shallow waters, or that a tyrant usurped it 
all. Therefore we need a new nobility, to be the adversary 
of all rabble and all tyranny, and to inscribe on new tables 
the word "noble." Certainly not a nobility that can be 
bought, nor a nobility whose virtue is love of country. 
No, teaches Zarathustra, exiles shall ye be from your 
fatherlands and forefatherlands. Not the land of your 
fathers shall ye love, but your children's land. This love 
is the new nobility — love of that new land, the undiscovered, 
far-off country in the remotest sea. To your children shall 
ye make amends for the misfortune of being your fathers' 
children. Thus shall ye redeem all the past. 

Zarathustra is full of lenity. Others have said : Thou 
shalt not commit adultery. Zarathustra teaches: The 
honest should say to each other, " Let us see whether our 
ove continue ; let us fix a term, that we may find out 
whether we desire a longer term." What cannot be bent, 
will be broken. A woman said to Zarathustra, " Indeed, 
I broke the marriage, but first did the marriage break 

Zarathustra is without mercy. It has been said: Push 
not a leaning waggon. But Zarathustra says : That which 
is ready to fall, shall ye also push. All that belongs to our 
day is falling and decaying. No one can preserve it, but 
Zarathustra will even help it to fall faster. 


Zarathustra loves the brave. But not the bravery that 
takes up every challenge. There is often more bravery 
in holding back and passing by and reserving one's self 
for a worthier foe. Zarathustra does not teach : Ye shall 
love your enemies, but : Ye shall not engage in combat 
with enemies ye despise. 

Why so hard ? men cry to Zarathustra. He replies : 
Why so hard, once said the charcoal to the diamond ; are 
we not near of kin ? The creators are hard. Their blessed- 
ness it is to press their hand upon future centuries as 
upon wax. 

No doctrine revolts Zarathustra more than that of the 
vanity and senselessness of life. This is in his eyes ancient 
babbling, old wives' babbling. And the pessimists who 
sum up life with a balance of aversion, and assert the 
badness of existence, are the objects of his positive loathing. 
He prefers pain to annihilation. 

The same extravagant love of life is expressed in the 

Hymn to Life, written by his friend, Lou von Salom6, 

which Nietzsche set for chorus and orchestra. We read 

here — 

" So truly loves a friend his friend 
As I love thee, O Life in myst'ry hidden ! 
If joy or grief to me thou send; 
If loud I laugh or else to weep am bidden, 
Yet love I thee with all thy changeful faces; 
And should'st thou doom me to depart, 
So would I tear myself from thy embraces. 
As comrade from a comrade's heart." 

And the poem concludes — 

" And if thou hast now left no bliss to crown me, 
Lead on 1 thou hast thy sorrow still ! " * 

When Achilles chose to be a day-labourer on earth 
rather than a king in the realm of the shades, the expression 
was a weak one in comparison with this passionate out- 

* Translated by Herman Scheffauer. Text and pianoforte score 
are given in Vol. XVII (Ecce Homo) of the English edition of Nietzsche's 


burst, which paradoxically thirsts even for the cup of 

Eduard von Hartmann believes in a beginning and end 
of the "world process." He concludes that no eternity 
can lie behind us ; otherwise everything possible must 
already have happened, which — according to his contention 
— is not the case. In sharp contrast to him, on this point 
as on others, Zarathustra teaches, with, be it said, a some- 
what shallow mysticism — which is derived from the ancient 
Pythagoreans' idea of the circular course of history and 
is influenced by Cohelet's Hebrew philosophy of life — the 
eternal recurrence ; that is to say, that all things eternally 
return and we ourselves with them, that we have already 
existed an infinite number of times and all things with us. 
The great clock of the universe is to him an hour-glass, 
which is constantly turned and runs out again and again. 
This is the direct antithesis of Hartmann's doctrine of 
universal destruction, and curiously enough it was put 
forward at about the same time by two French thinkers; 
by Blanqui in L'Eternite par les Astres (1871), and by 
Gustave Le Bon in L' Homme et les Societes (1881). 

At his death Zarathustra will say : Now I disappear and 
die ; in a moment I shall be nothing, for the soul is mortal 
as the body; but the complex of causes in which I am 
involved will return, and it will continually reproduce 

At the close of the third part of Zarathustra there is 
a chapter headed "The Second Dance Song." Dance, in 
Nietzsche's language, is always an expression for the lofty 
lightness of mind, which is exalted above the gravity of 
earth and above all stupid seriousness. This song, extremely 
remarkable in its language, is a good specimen of the style 
of the work, when it soars into its highest flights of poetry. 
Life appears to Zarathustra as a woman ; she strikes her 
castanets and he dances with her, flinging out all his wrath 
with life and all his love of life. 

" Lately looked I into thine eyes, O Life I Gold saw 


I gleaming in thy night-eye — my heart stood still with 
the joy of it. 

"A golden skiff saw I gleaming upon shadowy waters, 
a sinking, drinking, reblinking, golden swinging-skiff. 

"At my foot, dancing-mad, didst thou cast a glance, 
a laughing, questioning, melting, swinging-glance. 

"Twice only did thy little hands strike the castanets — 
then was my foot swinging in the madness of the dance. 

" I fear thee near, I love thee far ; thy flight allureth 
me, thy seeking secureth me ; I suffer, but for thee, what 
would I not gladly bear ! 

" For thee, whose coldness inflameth, whose hatred mis- 
leadeth, whose flight enchaineth, whose mockery pleadeth ! 

"Who would not hate thee, thou great bindress, in- 
windress, temptress, seekress, findress ! Who would not 
love thee, thou innocent, impatient, wind-swift, child-eyed 
sinner ! " 

In this dialogue between the dancers. Life and her lover, 
these words occur: O Zarathustra, thou art far from 
loving me as dearly as thou sayest ; thou art not faithful 
enough to me. There is an old, heavy booming-clock ; it 
boometh by night up to thy cave. When thou hearest 
this clock at midnight, then dost thou think until noon that 
soon thou wilt forsake me. 

And then follows, in conclusion, the song of the old 
midnight clock. But in the fourth part of the work, in 
the section called "The Sleepwalker's Song," this short 
strophe is interpreted line by line ; in form half like a 
mediaeval watchman's chant, half like the hymn of a mystic, 
it contains the mysterious spirit of Nietzsche's esoteric 
doctrine concentrated in the shortest formula — 

Midnight is drawing on, and as mysteriously, as terribly, 
and as cordially as the midnight bell speaketh to Zara- 
thustra, so calleth he to the higher men : At midnight 
many a thing is heard which may not be heard by day; 
and the midnight speaketh : O man, take heed! 


Whither hath time gone ? Have I not sunk into deep 
wells ? The world sleepeth. And shuddering it asketh : 
Who is to be master of the world ? What saith the deep 
midnight ? 

The bell boometh, the wood-worm burroweth, the heart- 
worm gnaweth : Ah ! the world is deep. 

But the old bell is like a sonorous instrument ; all pain 
hath bitten into its heart, the pain of fathers and fore- 
fathers ; and all joy hath set it swinging, the joy of fathers 
and forefathers — there riseth from the bell an odour of 
eternity, a rosy-blessed, golden-wine perfume of old happi- 
ness, and this song : The world is deep, and deeper than 
the day had thought. 

I am too pure for the rude hands of the day. The purest 
shall be masters of the world, the unacknowledged, the 
strongest, the midnight-souls, who are brighter and deeper 
than any day. Deep is its woe. 

But joy goeth deeper than heart's grief. For grief saith : 
Break, my heart ! Fly away, my pain ! JVoe saith: 
Begone ! 

But, ye higher men, said ye ever Yea to a single joy, 
then said ye also Yea unto all woe. For joy and woe are 
linked, enamoured, inseparable. And all beginneth again, 
all is eternal. All joys desire eternity, deep, deep, eternity. 

This, then, is the midnight song — 

" Oh Mensch ! Gieb Acht ! 
Was spricht die tiefe Mitternacht? 
* Ich schlief, ich schlief — 
Aus tiefem Traum bin ich erwacht: — 
Die Welt ist tief, 
Und tiefer als der Tag gedacht. 
Tief ist ihr Weh— 
Lust — tiefer noch als Herzeleid : 
Weh spricht : Vergeh ! 
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit — 
— will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit ! ' ' 



Such is he, then, this warHke mystic, poet and thinker, 
this immoraHst who is never tired of preaching. Coming 
to him fresh from the EngHsh philosophers, one feels trans- 
ported to another world. The Englishmen are all patient 
spirits, whose natural bent is towards the accumulation 
and investigation of a mass of small facts in order thereby 
to discover a law. The best of them are Aristotelian minds. 
Few of them fascinate us personally or seem to be of very 
complex personality. Their influence lies more in what 
they do than in what they are. Nietzsche, on the other 
hand, like Schopenhauer, is a guesser, a seer, an artist, 
less interesting in what he does than in what he is. 

Little as he feels himself a German, he nevertheless 
continues the metaphysical and intuitive tradition of 
German philosophy and has the German thinker's profound 
dislike of any utilitarian point of view. In his passionate 
aphoristical form he is unquestionably original ; in the 
substance of his thought he reminds one here and there 
of many another writer, both of contemporary Germany 
and of France; but he evidently regards it as perfectly 
absurd that he should have to thank a contemporary for 
anything, and storms like a German at all those who 
resemble him in any point. 

I have already mentioned how strongly he reminds one 
of Ernest Renan in his conception of culture and in his 
hope of an aristocracy of intellect that could seize the 
dominion of the world. Nevertheless he has not one 
appreciative word to say for Renan. 

I have also alluded to the fact that Eduard von Hartmann 
was his predecessor in his fight against Schopenhauer's 
morality of pity. In this author, whose talent is indis- 
putable, even though his importance may not correspond 
with his extraordinary reputation, Niet/'sche, with the 
uncritical injustice of a German university professor, would 
only see a charlatan. Hartmann's nature is of heavier 
stuff than Nietzsche's. He is ponderous, self-complacent, 


fundamentally Teutonic, and, in contrast to Nietzsche, 
entirely unaffected by French spirit and southern sunshine. 
But there are points of resemblance between them, which 
are due to historical conditions in the Germany that reared 
them both. 

In the first place, there was something analogous in their 
positions in life, since both as artillerymen had gone through 
a similar schooling ; and in the second place, in their culture, 
inasmuch as the starting-point of both is Schopenhauer 
and both nevertheless retain a great respect for Hegel, 
thus uniting these two hostile brothers in their veneration. 
They are further in agreement in their equally estranged 
attitude to Christian piety and Christian morality, as well 
as in their contempt, so characteristic of modern Germany, 
for every kind of democracy. 

Nietzsche resembles Hartmann in his attacks on socialists 
and anarchists, with the difference that Hartmann's attitude 
is here more that of the savant, while Nietzsche has the 
bad taste to delight in talking about " anarchist dogs," 
expressing in the same breath his own loathing of the State. 
Nietzsche further resembles Hartmann in his repeated 
demonstration of the impossibility of the ideals of equality 
and of peace, since life is nothings but inequality and war : 
" What is good ? To be brave is good. I do not say, 
the good cause sanctifies war, but the good war sanctifies 
every cause." Like his predecessor, he dwells on the 
necessity of the struggle for power and on the supposed 
value of war to culture. 

In both these authors, comparatively independent as 
they are, the one a mystical natural philosopher, the other 
a mystical immoralist, is reflected the all-dominating 
militarism of the new German Empire. Hartmann ap- 
proaches on many points the German snobbish national 
feeling. Nietzsche is opposed to it on principle, as he is to 
the statesman " who has piled up for the Germans a new 
tower of Babel, a monster in extent of territory and power 
and for that reason called great," but something of Bis- 
marck's spirit broods nevertheless over the works of both. 


As regards the question of war, the only difference between 
them is that Nietzsche does not desire war for the sake of 
a fantastic redemption of the world, but in order that 
manliness may not become extinct. 

In his contempt for woman and his abuse of her efforts 
for emancipation Nietzsche again agrees with Hartmann, 
though only in so far as both here recall Schopenhauer, 
whose echo Hartmann is in this connection. But whereas 
Hartmann is here only a moralising doctrinaire with a 
somewhat offensive dash of pedantry, one can trace beneath 
Nietzsche's attacks on the female sex that subtle sense of 
woman's dangerousness which points to painful experience. 
He does not seem to have known many women, but those 
he did know, he evidently loved and hated, but above all 
despised. Again and again he returns to the unfitness 
of the free and great spirit for marriage. In many of these 
utterances there is a strongly personal note, especially in 
those which persistently assert the necessity of a solitary 
life for a thinker. But as regards the less personal argu- 
ments about woman, old-world Germany here speaks 
through the mouth of Nietzsche, as through that of Hart- 
mann ; the Germany whose women, in contrast to those 
of France and England, have for centuries been relegated 
to the domestic and strictly private life. We may recognise 
in these German writers generally that they have an eye 
for the profound antagonism and perpetual war between 
the sexes, which Stuart Mill neither saw nor understood. 
But the injustice to man and the rather tame fairness to 
woman, in which Mill's admirable emancipatory attempt 
occasionally results, is nevertheless greatly to be preferred 
to Nietzsche's brutal unfairness, which asserts that in our 
treatment of women we ought to return to "the vast 
common sense of old Asia." 

Finally, in his conflict with pessimism Nietzsche had 
Eugen Duhring (especially in his Werth des Lebens) as a 
forerunner, and this circumstance seems to have inspired 
him with so much ill-will, so much exasperation indeed, 
that in a polemic now open, now disguised, he calls Duhring 


his ape. Diihring is a horror to him as a plebeian, as an 
Antisemite, as the apostle of revenge, and as the disciple 
of the Englishmen and of Comte ; but Nietzsche has not 
a word to say about Diihring's very remarkable qualities, 
to which such epithets as these do not apply. But we can 
easily understand, taking Nietzsche's own destiny into 
consideration, that Diihring, the blind man, the neglected 
thinker who despises official scholars, the philosopher who 
teaches outside the universities, who, in spite of being so 
little pampered by life, loudly proclaims his love of life — 
should appear to Nietzsche as a caricature of himself. 
This was, however, no reason for his now and then adopting 
Diihring's abusive tone. And it must be confessed that, 
much as Nietzsche wished to be what, for that matter, he 
was — a Polish szlachcic, a European man of the world and 
a cosmopolitan thinker — in one respect he always remained 
the German professor : in the rude abuse in which his 
uncontrolled hatred of rivals found vent ; and, after all, his 
only rivals as a modern German philosopher were Hartmann 
and Diihring. 

It is strange that this man, who learned such an immense 
amount from French moralists and psychologists like La 
Rochefoucauld, Chamfort, and Stendhal, was able to acquire 
so little of the self-control of their form. He was never 
subjected to the restraint which the literary tone of France 
imposes upon every writer as regards the mention and 
exhibition of his own person. For a long time he seems to 
have striven to discover himself and to become completely 
himself. In order to find himself he crept into his solitude, 
as Zarathustra into his cave. By the time he had succeeded 
in arriving at full independent development and felt the 
rich flow of individual thought within him, he had lost all 
external standards for measuring his own value ; all bridges 
to the world around him were broken down. The fact 
that no recognition came from without only aggravated 
his self-esteem. The first glimmer of recognition further 
exalted this self-esteem. At last it closed above his head 
and darkened this rare and commanding intellect. 


As he stands disclosed in his incompleted life-work, he 
is a writer well worth studying. 

My principal reason for calling attention to him is that 
Scandinavian literature appea rs to me to have been living 
quite Innf^^nnngh nn th^ idpag that wpr^ pnf forward and 

tt iscussed in the last decade . It looks as though _the_jiOwer 
oT concei ving great ideas were^n the wane, and eve n as 
thou gh receptivity for them were fast vanishing ; people 
are s till busy with the same doct rinf-s. certain theorieTof 
heredity, a little D arwinism, a little emancipation of woman, 
a httie morality of happiness, a little freethonght, a little 
worship of democracy, etc. And as to the culture of our 
"cultured" people, the level represented approximately 
by the Rtvue des Deux Mondes threatens to become the high- 
water mark of taste. It does not seem yet to have dawned 
on the best among us that the finer, the only true culture 
begins on the far side of the Revue des Deux Mondes in the 
great personality, rich in ideas. 

The intellectual development of Scandinavia has advanced 
comparatively rapidly in its literature. We have seen 
great authors rise above all orthodoxy, though they began 
by being perfectly simple-hearted believers. This is very 
honourable, but in the case of those who cannot rise higher 
still, it is nevertheless rather meagre. In the course of the 
'seventies it became clear to almost all Scandinavian authors 
that it would no longer do to go on writing on the basis 
of the Augsburg Confession. Some quietly dropped it, 
others opposed it more or less noisily ; whilst most of those 
who abandoned it entrenched themselves against the 
public, and to some extent against the bad conscience of 
their own childhood, behind the established Protestant 
morality ; now and then, indeed, behind a good, everyday 
soup-stock morality — I call it thus because so many a soup 
has been served from it. 

But be that as it may, attacks on existing prejudices 
and defence of existing institutions threaten at present to 
sink into one and the same commonplace familiarity. 

Soon, I believe, we shall once more receive a lively im- 



pression that art cannot rest content with ideas and ideals 
for the average mediocrity, any more than with remnants 
of the old catechisms ; but that great art demands intellects 
that stand on a level with the most individual personalities 
of contemporary thought, in exceptionality, in independence 
in defiance and in aristocratic self-supremacy. 




{December 1899) 

More than ten years have gone by since I first called 
attention to Friedrich Nietzsche. I ^y essay on "Ar istocratic 
Radica lism" was thf ^^'^^ ^turly^f ^py length to be devoted, 
ill the whole of Europe, to this man, whose name has since 
flown round the world and is at this moment one of the most 
famous among our contemporaries. This thinker, then 
almost unknown and seldom mentioned, became, a few 
years later, the fashionable philosopher in every country 
of Europe, and this while the great man, to whose lot had 
suddenly fallen the universal fame he had so passionately 
desired, lived on without a suspicion of it all, a living 
corpse cut off from the world by incurable insanity. 

Beginning with his native land, which so long as he 
retained his powers never gave him a sign of recognition, 
his writings have now made their way in every country. 
Even in France, usually so loth to admit foreign, and 
especially German, influence, his character and his doctrine 
have been studied and expounded again and again. In 
Germany, as well as outside it, a sort of school has been 
formed, which appeals to his authority and not unfrequently 
compromises him, or rather itself, a good deal. The opposi- 
tion to him is conducted sometimes (as by Ludwig Stein) 
on serious and scientific lines, although from narrow 
pedagoguic premises; sometimes (as by Herr Max Nordau) 
with sorry weapons and with the assumed superiority of 
presumptuous mediocrity. 

Interesting articles and books on Nietzsche have been 
written by Peter Gast and Lou von Salom6 in German 
and by Henri Lichtenberger in French ; and in addition 


Nietzsche's sister, Frau Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche, has] 
not only published an excellent edition of his collected] 
works (including his youthful sketches), but has written his 
Life (and published his Correspondence). 

My old essay on Nietzsche has thus long ago been out-| 
stripped by later works, the writers of which were able| 
to take a knowledge of Nietzsche's work for granted and] 
therefore to examine his writings without at the same time 
having to acquaint the reader with their contents. That] 
essay, it may be remembered, occasioned an exchange of; 
words between Prof. Hoffding and myself, in the course of 
which I had the opportunity of expressing my own views 
more clearly and of showing what points they had in common 
with Nietzsche's, and where they diverged from his.* 
As, of course, these polemical utterances of mine were not 
translated into foreign languages, no notice was taken of 
them anywhere abroad. 

The first essay itself, on the other hand, which was soon 
translated, brought me in a number of attacks, which 
gradually acquired a perfectly stereotyped formula. In 
an article by a Germanised Swede, who wanted to be 
specially spiteful, I was praised for having in that essay 
broken with my past and resolutely renounced the set of 
liberal opinions and ideas I had hitherto championed. 
Whatever else I might be blamed for, it had to be acknow- 
ledged that twice in my life I had been the spokesman of 
German ideas, in my youth of Hegel's and in my maturer 
years of Nietzsche's. In a book by a noisy German charlatan 
living in Paris, Herr Nordau, it was shortly afterwards 
asserted that if Danish parents could guess what I was 
really teaching their children at the University of Copen- 
hagen, they would kill me in the street — a downright 
incitement to murder, which was all the more comic in 
its pretext, as admission to my lectures has always been 
open to everybody, the greater part of these lectures has 
appeared in print, and, finally, twenty years ago the parents 

I See Tilskueren (Copenhagen) for August and November-December 
1889, January, February-March, April and May 1890. 


used very frequently to come and hear me. It was repeated 
in the same quarter that after being a follower of Stuart 
Mill, I had in that essay turned my back on my past, since 
I had now appeared as an adherent of Nietzsche. This 
last statement was afterwards copied in a very childish book 
by a Viennese lady who, without a notion of the actual facts, 
writes away, year in, year out, on Scandinavian literature 
for the benefit of the German public. This nonsense was 
finally disgorged once more in 1899 by Mr. Alfred Ipsen, 
who contributed to the London Athenoeum surveys of 
Danish literature, among the virtues of which impartiality 
did not find a place. 

In the face of these constantly repeated assertions from 
abroad, I may be permitted to make it clear once more — 
as I have already shown in Tilskueren in 1890 (p. 259) — 
that my principles have not been in the slightest way 
modified through contact with Nietzsche. When I became 
acquainted with him I was long past the age at which it 
is possible to change one's fundamental view of life. More- 
over, I maintained many years ago, in reply to my Danish 
opponents, that my first thought with regard to a philo- 
sophical book was by no means to ask whether what it 
contains is right or wrong : " I go straight through the book 
to the man behind it. And my first question is this : 
What is the value of this man, is he interesting, or not ? 
If he is, then his books are undoubtedly worth knowing. 
Questions of right or wrong are seldom applicable in the 
highest intellectual spheres, and their answering is not 
unfrequently of relatively small importance. The first 
lines I wrote about Nietzsche were therefore to the effect 
that he deserved to be studied and contested. I rejoiced 
in him, as I rejoice in every powerful and uncommon 
individuality." And three years later I replied to the 
attack of a worthy and able Swiss professor, who had branded 
Nietzsche as a reactionary and a cynic, in these words, 
amongst others : "No mature reader studies Nietzsche with 
the latent design of adopting his opinions, still less with 
that of propagating them. We are not children in search 



of instruction, but sceptics in search of men, and we rejoic^ 
when we have found a man — the rarest thing there is." ■ 

It seems to me that this is not exactly the language of 
an adherent, and that my critics might spare some of their 
powder and shot as regards my renunciation of ideas. It 
is a nuisance to be forced now and then to reply in person 
to all the allegations that are accumulated against one 
year by year in the European press ; but when others 
never write a sensible word about one, it becomes an obliga- 
tion at times to stand up for one's self. 

My personal connection with Nietzsche began with his 
sending me his book. Beyond Good and Evil. I read it, 
received a strong impression, though not a clear or decided 
one, and did nothing further about it — for one reason, 
because I receive every day far too many books to be able 
to acknowledge them. But as in the following year The 
Genealogy of Morals was sent me by the author, and as 
this book was not only much clearer in itself, but also 
threw new light on the earlier one, I wrote Nietzsche a 
few lines of thanks, and this led to a correspondence which 
was interrupted by Nietzsche's attack of insanity thirteen 
months later. 

The letters he sent me in that last year of his conscious 
life appear to me to be of no little psychological and 
biographical interest. 

Correspondence between Friedrich Nietzsche 
AND George Brandes 

I. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Nov. 26, 1887. 

Dear Sir, 

A year ago I received through your publisher your 
work Beyond Good and Evil) the other day your latest book 
reached me in the same way. Of your other books I have 
Human, all-too-Human. I had just sent the two volumes I 
possess to the binder, when The Genealogy of Morals durwed, 
so that I have not been able to compare it with the earlier 
works, as I mean to do. By degrees I shall read everything 
of yours attentively. 


This time, however, I am anxious to express at once my 
sincere thanks for the book sent. It is an honour to me to 
be known to you, and known in such a way tKat~you should 
wish to ^am me as a reader. 

Ane w and original spirit breat hes to me from your 
boefcsr I do not yet fully understand what I have read; 
I cannot always see your intention. _Bjlt_Lfind jnuc.h-that 
harmonises with my own ideas and sympathies, the deprecia- 
tiori 6r the ascetic Icieals and the" profound disgust with 
democratic mediocrity, your aristbcratic radicalism. Your 
co ntempt for the morality of pityisnot_j^et_cjear_jo me. 
There were also in the other worlTsome reflections on women 
in general which did not agree with my own line of thought. 
Your nature is so absolutely different from mine that it is 
not easy for me to feel at home. In spite of your universality 
you are very German in your mode of thinking and writing. 
You are one of the few people with whom I should enjoy 
a talk. 

I know nothing about you. I see with astonishment that 
you are a professor and doctor. I congratulate you in any 
case on being intellectually so little of a professor. 

I do not know what you have read of mine. My writings 
only attempt the solution of modest problems. For the 
most part they are only to be had in Danish. For many 
years I have not written German. I have my best public 
in the Slavonic countries, I believe. I have lectured in 
Warsaw for two years in succession, and this year in Peters- 
burg and Moscow, in French. Thus I endeavour to break 
through the narrow limits of my native land. 

Although no longer young, I am still one of the most 
inquisitive of men and one of the most eager to learn. You 
will therefore not find me closed against your ideas, even 
when I differ from you in thought and feeling. I am often 
stupid, but never in the least narrow. 

Let me have the pleasure of a few lines if you think it 
worth the trouble. 

Yours gratefully, 

George Brandes. 


2. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Nice, Dec. 2, 1887. 

My Dear Sir, 

A few readers w hom one honour s and beyond them 
no readers at all — that is really what I desire. As regards 
the latter part of this wish, I am bound to say my hope of 
its realisation is growing less and less. All the more happy 
am I in satis sunt pauci, that the pauci do not fail and have 
never failed me. Of the living amongst them I will mention 
(to name only those whom you are certain to know) my 
distinguished friend Jakob Burkhardt, Hans von Biilow, 
H. Taine, and the Swiss poet Keller; of the dead, the old 
Hegelian Bruno Bauer and Richard Wagner. It gives me 
sincere pleasure that so good a European and missionary of 
culture as yourself will in future be numbered amongst 
them ; I thank you with all my heart for this proof of your 

I am afraid you will find it a difficult position. I myself 
have no doubt that my writings in one way or another are 
still " very German." You will, I am sure, feel this all the 
more markedly, being so spoilt by yourself ; I mean, by the 
free and graceful French way in which you handle the 
language (a more familiar way than mine). With me a great 
many words have acquired an incrustation of foreign salts 
and taste differently on my tongue and on those of my 
readers. On the scale of my experiences and circumstances 
the predominance is given to the rarer, remoter, more atten-, 
uated tones as against the normal, medial ones. Besides 
(as an old musician, which is what I really am), I have an 
ear for quarter-tones. Finally — and this probably does 
most to make my books obscure — there is in me a distrust 
of dialectics, even of reasons. What a person already 
holds " true " or has not yet acknowledged as true, seems to 
me to depend mainly on his courage, on the relative strength 
of his courage (I seldom have the courage for what I really 

The expression Aristocratic Radicalism, vjhich you employ, 
is very good. Itjs^_2erinitme t o say, the cleverest thing I 
have yet read about my sdf. 


How far this mode of thought has carried me already, 
how far it will carry me yet — I am almost afraid to imagine. 
But there are certain paths which do not allow one to go 
backward and so I go forward, because I must. 

That I may not neglect anything on my part that might 
facilitate your access to my cave — that is, my philosophy — 
my Leipzig publishers shall send you all my older books 
en bloc. I recommend you especially to read the new 
prefaces to them (they have nearly all been republished); 
these prefaces, if read in order, will perhaps throw some 
light upon me, assuming that I am not obscurity in itself 
(obscure in myself) as obscurissimus obscurorum virorum. 
For that is quite possible. 

Are you a musician ? A work of mine for chorus and 
orchestra is just being published, a "Hymn to Life."i 
This is intended to represent my music to posterity and one 
day to be sung " in my memory " ; assuming that there is 
enough left of me for that. You see what posthumous 
thoughts I have. But a philosophy like mine is like a grave 
— it takes one from among the living. Bene vixit qui bene 
latuit — was inscribed on Descartes' tombstone. What an 
epitaph, to be sure 1 

I too hope we may meet some day. 



N.B. — I am staying this winter at Nice. My summer 
address is Sils-Maria, Upper Engadine, Switzerland — I have 
resigned my professorship at the University. I am three 
parts blind. 

3. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Dec. 15, 1887. 

My Dear Sir, 

The last words of your letter are those that have 
made most impression on me ; those in which you tell me 
that your eyes are seriously affected. Have you consulted 


good oculists, the best ? It alters one's whole psychological 
life if one cannot see well. You owe it to all who honour 
you to do everything possible for the preservation and 
improvement of your sight. 

I have put off answering your letter because you announced 
the sending of a parcel of books, and I wished to thank you 
for them at the same time. But as the parcel has not yet 
arrived I will send you a few words to-day. I have your 
books back from the binder and have gone into them as 
deeply as I was able amid the stress of preparing lectures 
and all kinds of literary and political work. 

December 17. 

I am quite willing to be called a "good European," less 
so to be called a " missionary of culture." X^ have a h orror 
of all missionary effort — because I have come across none 
But moralfstpip iiiissiunai ies-=^Snd~' 1 am atraid"^I do not 
altogefher betteve in^what is called eultt »e. Qui mllilf e as 
a whole cannot inspire enthMStasm, ain itfjafia what would a 
missi6hary_be__wijlio.ut enthusiasm ! . In other words, I am 
nior ^iseteted th an you think. All I meant by being German 
was that you write more lor yourself, think more of yourself 
in writing, than for the general public ; whereas most non- 
German writers have been obliged to force themselves into 
a certain discipline of style, which no doubt makes the latter 
clearer and more plastic, but necessarily deprives it of all 
profundity and compels the writer to keep to himself his 
most intimate and best individuality, the anonymous in 
him. I have thus been horrified at times to see how little 
of my inmost self is more than hinted at in my writings. 

I am no connoisseur in music. The arts of which 1 have 
some notion are sculpture and painting; I have to thank 
them for my deepest artistic impressions. My ear is unde- 
veloped. In my young days this was a great grief to me. I 
used to play a good deal and worked at thorough-bass for a 
few years, but nothing came of it. I can enjoy good music 
keenly, but still am one of the uninitiated. 


I think I can trace in your works certain points of agree- 
ment with my own taste : your predilection for Beyle, for 
instance, and for Taine ; but the latter I have not seen for 
seventeen years. 1 am not so enthusiastic about his work 
on the Revolution as you seem to be. He deplores and 
harangues an earthquake. 

I used the expression " aristocratic radicalism " because 
it so exactly defines my own political convictions. I am a 
little hurt, however, at the offhand and impetuous pronounce- 
ments against such phenomena as socialism and anarchism 
in your works. The anarchism of Prince Kropotkin, 
for instance, is no stupidity. The name, of course, 
is nothing. Your intellect, which is usually so dazzling, 
seems to me to fall a trifle short where truth is to be found in 
a nuance. Your views on the origin of the moral ideas 
interest me in the highest degree. 

You share — to my delighted astonishment — a certain 
repugnance which I feel for Herbert Spencer. With us he 
passes for the god of philosophy. However, it is as a rule a 
distinct merit with these Englishmen that their not very 
high-soaring intellect shuns hypotheses, whereas hypothesis 
has destroyed the supremacy of German philosophy. Is 
not there a great deal that is hypothetical in your 
ideas of caste distinctions as the source of various moral 
concepts ? 

I know Ree whom you attack, have met him in Berlin; he 
was a quiet man, rather distinguished in his bearing, but 
a somewhat dry and limited intellect. He was living — 
according to his own account, as brother and sister — with a 
quite young and intelligent Russian lady, who published a 
year or two ago a book called Der Kampf um Gott, but 
this gives no idea of her genuine gifts. 

I am looking forward to receiving the books you promise 
me. I hope in future you will not lose sight of me. 


George Brandes. 


4. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Nice, Jan. 8, 1888. 

.... You should not object to the expression "missionary 
of culture." What better way is there of being one in our 
day than that of " missionising " one's disbelief in culture ? 
To have understood that our European culture is a vast 
problem and by no means a solution — is not such a degree 
of introspection and self-conquest nowadays culture itself ? 
I am surprised my books have not yet reached you. I 
shall not omit to send a reminder to Leipzig. At Christmas 
time Messieurs the publishers are apt to lose their heads. 
Meanwhile may I be allowed to bring to your notice a daring 
curiosity over which no publisher has authority, an ineditum 
of mine that is among the most personal things I can show. 
It is the fourth part of my Zarathnstra ; its proper title, 
with regard to what precedes and follows it, should be — 

Zarathustra's Temptation 

An Interlude. 

Perhaps this is my best answer to your question about my 
problem of pity. Besides which, there are excellent reasons 
for gaining admission to " me " by this particular secret 
door ; provided that one crosses the threshold with your 
eyes and ears. Your essay on Zola reminded me once 
more, like everything I have met with of yours (the last was 
an essay in the Goethe Year-book), in the most agreeable 
way of your natural tendency towards every kind of psycho- 
logical optics. When working out the most difficult mathe- 
matical problems of the ante moderne you are as much in 
your element as a German scholar in such case is apt to be 
out of his. Or do you perhaps think more favourably of 
present-day Germans ? It seems to me that they become year 
by year more clumsy and rectangular in rebus psychologicis 
(in direct contrast to the Parisians, with whom everything 
is becoming nuance and mosaic), so that all events below 
the surface escape their notice. For example, my Beyond 
Good and Evil — what an awkward position it has put them 
in ! Not one intelligent word has reached me about this 


book, let alone an intelligent sentiment. I do not believe 
even the most well-disposed of my readers has discovered 
that he has here to deal with the logical results of a perfectly 
definite philosophical sensibility, and not with a medley of a 
hundred promiscuous paradoxes and heterodoxies. Nothing 
of the kind has been " experienced " ; my readers do not 
bring to it a thousandth part of the passion and suffering 
that is needed. An "immoralist ! " This does not suggest 
anything to them. 

By the way, the Goncourts in one of their prefaces claim 
to have invented the phrase document humain . But for all 
that M . Taine may well be its real originator. 

You are right in what you say about "haranguing an 
earthquake " ; but such Quixotism is among the most 
honourable things on this earth. 

With the greatest respect, 



5. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Jan. II, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Your publisher has apparently forgotten to send me 
your books, but I have to-day received your letter with 
thanks. I take the liberty of sending you herewith one of 
my books in proof (because unfortunately I have no other 
copy at hand), a collection of essays intended for export, 
therefore not my best wares. They date from various 
times and are all too polite, too laudatory, too idealistic 
in tone. I never really say all I think in them. The paper 
on Ibsen is no doubt the best, but the translation of the 
verses, which I had done for me, is unfortunately wretched. 
There is one Scandinavian writer whose works would 
interest you, if onlythey were translated : Soren Kierkegaard; 
he lived from 1813 to 1855, and is in my opinion one of the 
profoundest psychologists that have ever existed. A little 
book I wrote about him (translated, Leipzig, 1879) gives 
no adequate idea of his genius, as it is a sort of polemical 
pamphlet written to counteract his influence. But in a 


psychological respect it is, I think, the most subtle thing I 
have published. 

The essay in the Goethe Year-book was unfortunately 
shortened by more than a third, as the space had been 
reserved for me. It is a good deal better in Danish. 

If you happen to read Polish, I will send you a little book 
that I have published only in that language. 

I see the new Rivista Contemporanea of Florence has 
printed a paper of mine on Danish literature. You must 
not read it. It is full of the most ridiculous mistakes. It 
is translated from the Russian, I must tell you. I had 
allowed it to be translated into Russian from my French 
text, but could not check this translation ; now it appears in 
Italian from the Russian with fresh absurdities ; amongst 
others in the names (on account of the Russian pronuncia- 
tion), G for H throughout. 

I am glad you find in me something serviceable to yourself. 
For the last four years I have been the most detested man 
in Scandinavia. Every day the papers rage against me, 
especially since my last long quarrel with Bjornson,i»Awhich 
the moral German p apers all took j>art against me. I dare 
sa'y'ydu'Siiow'his absurd play, A Uauntlet, his propaganda 
for male virginity and his covenant with the spokeswomen 
of " the demand for equality in morals." Anything like 
it was certainly unheard of till now. In Sweden these 
insane women have formed great leagues in which they vow 
" only to marry virgin men." I suppose they get a guarantee 
with them, like watches, only the guarantee for the future 
is not likely to be forthcoming. 

I have read the three books of yours that I know again 
and again. There are two or three bridges leading from my 
inner world to yours : Caesarism, hatred of pedantry, a 
sense for Beyle, etc., but still most of it is strange to me. 
Our experiences appear to be so infinitely dissimilar. You 
are without doubt the most suggestive of all German writers. 

Your German literature ! I don't know what is the matter 
with it. I fancy all the brains must go into the General 
Staff or the administration. The whole life of Germany 


and all your institutions are spreading the most hideous 
uniformity, and even authorship is stifled by publishing. 
Your obliged and respectful, 

George Brandes. 

6. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Nice, Feb. 19, 1888. 

.... You have laid me under a most agreeable obligation 
with your contribution to the idea of " Modernity," for it 
happens that this winter I am circling round this paramount 
problem of values, very much from above and in the manner 
of a bird, and with the best intention of looking down upon 
the modern world with as unmodern an eye as possible. I 
admire — let me confess it — the tolerance of your judgment, as 
much as the moderation of your sentences. How you suffer 
these *' little children " to come unto you ! Even Heyse ! 

On my next visit to Germany I propose to take up the 
psychological problem of Kierkegaard and at the same time 
to renew acquaintance with your older literature. It will 
be of use to me in the best sense of the word — and will 
serve to restore good humour to my own severity and 
arrogance of judgment. 

My publisher telegraphed to me yesterday that the books 
had gone to you. I will spare you and myself the story of 
why they were delayed. Now, my dear Sir, may you put 
a good face on a bad bargain, I mean on this Nietzsche 

I myself cherish the notion of having given the "new 
Germans" the richest, most actual and most independent 
books of any they possess ; also of being in my own person 
a capital event in the crisis of the determination of values. 
But this may be an error; and, what is more, a piece of 
foolishness — I do not want to have to believe anything [of 
the sort] about myself. 

One or two further remarks : they concern my firstlings 
(the Juvenilia and Juvenalia). 

The pamphlet against Strauss, the wicked merrymaking 
of a "very free spirit" at the expense of one who thought 
himself such, led to a terrific scandal; I was already a 


Professor ordinarius at the time, therefore in spite of my 
twenty-seven years a kind of authority and something 
acknowledged. The most unbiassed view of this affair, in 
which almost every "notabihty" took part for or against 
me, and in which an insane quantity of paper was covered 
with printer's ink, is to be found in Karl Hillebrand's Zeiten, 
Volker und Menschen, second volume. The trouble was not 
that I had jeered at the senile bungling of an eminent critic, 
but that I had caught German taste in flagranti in compro- 
mising tastelessness ; for in spite of all party differences of 
religion and theology it had unanimously admired Strauss's 
Alien und Neuen Glauben as a masterpiece of freedom and 
subtlety of thought (even the style !). My pamphlet was the 
first onslaught on German culture (that "culture" which 
they imagined to have gained the victory over France). 
The word "Culture-Philistine," which I then invented, has 
remained in the language as a survival of the raging turmoil 
of that polemic. 

The two papers on Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner 
appear to me to-day to contain self-confessions, above all 
promises to myself, rather than any real psychology of those 
two masters, who are at the same time profoundly related 
and profoundly antagonistic to me — (I was the first to distil 
a sort of unity out of them both ; at present this superstition 
is much to the fore in German culture — that all Wagnerites 
are followers of Schopenhauer. It was otherwise when I 
was young. Then it was the last of the Hegelians who 
adhered to Wagner, and " Wagner and Hegel " was still 
the watchword of the 'fifties). 

Between Thoughts out of Season and Human, ail-too- 
Human there lies a crisis and a skin-casting. Physically 
too : I lived for years in extreme proximity to death. This 
was my great good fortune : I forgot myself, I outlived 
myself ... I have performed the same trick once again. 

So now we have each presented gifts to the other : two 
travellers, it seems to me, who are glad to have met. 
I remain, 

Yours most sincerely, 



7. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, March 7, 1888. 
My dear Sir, 

I imagine you to be living in fine spring weather ; 
up here we are buried in abominable snowdrifts and have 
been cut off from Europe for several days. To make 
things worse, I have this evening been talking to some 
hundred imbeciles, and everything looks grey and dreary 
around me, so to revive my spirits a little I will thank you 
for your letter of February 19 and your generous present 
of books. 

As I was too busy to write to you at once, I sent you a 
volume on German Romanticism which I found on my 
shelves. I should be very sorry, however, that you should 
interpret my sending it otherwise than as a silent expression 
of thanks. 

The book was written in 1873 and revised in 1886 ; but 
my German publisher has permitted himself a number of 
linguistic and other alterations, so that the first two pages, 
for instance, are hardly mine at all. Wherever he does 
not understand my meaning, he puts something else, and 
declares that what I have written is not German. 

Moreover, the man promised to buy the rights of the old 
translation of my book, but from very foolish economy has 
not done so ; the consequence is that the German courts 
have suppressed my book in two instances as pirated (!) — 
because I had included in it fragments of the old translation 
— while the real pirate is allowed to sell my works freely. 

The probable result of this will be that I shall withdraw 
entirely from German literature. 

I sent that volume because I had no other. But the first 
one on the emigres, the fourth on the English and the fifth 
on the French romanticists are all far, far better ; written 
con amore. 

The title of the book, Moderne Getsfer, is fortuitous. I 
have written some twenty volumes. I wanted to put 
together for abroad a volume on personalities whose names 
would be familiar. That is how it came about. Some 


things in it have cost a good deal of study, such as the 
paper on Tegner, which tells the truth about him for the 
first time. Ibsen will certainly interest you as a personality. 
Unfortunately as a m an he doH^Iiat stand. pnjthe same level 
tha t he reaches as a poet. Intellectually he owes much 
t 5" Kierk egaarf ^ , p.nH he is still strongly permeated by 
theolofyy. Bjornson in his latest phase has become just an 
ordinary lay-preacher. 

For more than three years I have not published a book ; 
I felt too unhappy. These three years have been among 
the hardest of my life, and I see no sign of the approach 
of better times. However, I am now going to set about 
the publication of the sixth volume of my work and another 
book besides. It will take a deal of time. 

I was delighted with all the fresh books, turning them 
over and reading them. 

The youthful books are of great value to me ; they 
make it far easier to understand you ; I am now leisurely 
ascending the steps that lead up to your intellect. With 
Zarathustra I began too precipitately. I prefer to advance 
upwards rather than to dive head first as though into a 

I knew Hillebrand's essay and read years ago some bitter 
attacks on the book about Strauss. I am grateful to you 
for the word culture-philistine ; I had no idea it was yours. 
I take no offence at the criticism of Strauss, although I have 
feelings of piety for the old gentleman. Yet he was always 
the Tubingen collegian. 

Of the other works I have at present only studied The 
Dawn of Day at all closely. I believe I understand the 
book thoroughly, many of its ideas have also been mine, 
others are new to me or put into a new shape, but not on 
that account strange to me. 

One solitary remark, so as not to make this letter too 
long. I am delighted with the aphorism on the hazard 
of marriage (Aphorism 150). But why do you not dig 
deeper here? You speak somewhere with a certain rever- 
ence of marriage, which by implying an emotional ideal 


has idealised emotion — here, however, you are more blunt 
and forcible. Why not for once say the full truth about 
it ? I am of opinion that the institution of marriage, which 
may have been very useful in taming brutes, causes more 
misery to mankind than even the Church has done. Church, 
monarchy, marriage, property, these are to my mind four 
old venerable institutions which mankind will have to 
reform from the foundations in order to be able to breathe 
freely. And of these marriage alone kills the individuality, 
paralyses liberty and is the embodiment of a paradox. But 
the shocking thing about it is that humanity is still too 
coarse to be able to shake it off. The most emancipated 
writers, so called, still speak of marriage with a devout and 
virtuous air which maddens me. And they gain their 
point, since it is impossible to say what one could put in 
its place for the mob. There is nothing else to be done but 
slowly to transform opinion. What do you think about 

I should like very much to hear how it is with your eyes. 
I was glad to see how plain and clear your writing is. 

Externally, I suppose, you lead a calm and peaceful life 
down there ? Mine is a life of conflict which wears one 
out. In these realms I am even more hated now than I 
was seventeen years ago ; this is not pleasant in itself, 
though it is gratifying in so far as it proves to me that I 
have not yet lost my vigour nor come to terms on any 
point with sovereign mediocrity. 

Your attentive and grateful reader, 

George Brandes. 

8. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

nice, March 27, 1888. 
My dear Sir, 

I should much have liked to thank you before this 
for so rich and thoughtful a letter : but my health has 
been troubling me, so that I have fallen badly into arrears 
with all good things. In my eyes, I may say in passing, 
I have a dynamometer for my general state ; since my 


health in the main has once more improved, they have 
become stronger than I had ever beheved possible — they 
have put to shame the prophecies of the very best German 
oculists. If Messieurs Grafc et hoc genus omne had turned 
out right, I should long ago have been blind. As it is, I 
have come to No. 3 spectacles — bad enough ! — hut I still 
see. I speak of this worry because you were sympathetic 
enough to inquire about it, and because during the last 
few weeks my eyes have been particularly Weak and 

I feel for you in the North, now so wintry and gloomy ; 
how does one manage to keep one's soul erect there ? I 
admire almost every man who does not lose faith in him- 
self under a cloudy sky, to say nothing of his faith 
in "humanity,'* in "marriage," in "property," in the 
"State," ... In Petersburg I should be a nihilist: here 
I believe as a plant believes, in the sun. The sun of Nice 
— you cannot call that a prejudice. We have had it at the 
expense of all the rest of Europe. God, with the cynicism 
peculiar to him, lets it shine upon us idlers, "philosophers" 
and sharpers more brightly than upon the far worthier 
military heroes of the " Fatherland." 

But then, with the instinct of the Nort herner, you have 
chosen the strongest of all stirnulaolS-to-help you to endure 

j life in the North : war, the excitement of aggression, the 

I Viking raid. I divine in your writings the practised soldier; 

f and not only "mediocrity," but perhaps especially the ! 

j more independent or individual characters of the Northern 
mind may be constantly challenging you to fight. How-j 

'. much of the "parson," how much theology is still left 1 
behind in all this idealism ! ... To me it would be still 
worse than a cloudy sky, to have to make oneself angry over | 
things which do not concern one. 

So much for this time ; it is little enough. Your German 
Romanticism has set me thinking, how this whole move- 
ment actually only reached its goal as music (Schumann, 
Mendelssohn, Weber, Wagner, Brahms) ; as literature it 
remained a great promise. The French were more fortunate. \ 


I am afraid I am too much of a musician not to be 
a romanticist. Without music Hfe to me would be 
With cordial and grateful regards I remain, dear Sir, 



9. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, April 3, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

You have called the postman the medium of ill- 
mannered invasions. That is very true as a rule, and should 
be sat. sapienti not to trouble you. I am not an intruder 
by nature, so little in fact that I lead an almost isolated 
life, am indeed loth to write letters, and, like all authors, 
loth to write at all. 

Yesterday, however, when I had received your letter 
and taken up one of your books, I suddenly felt_a_sprt of 
vexatio n at the idea that no bod y here in Scandinavia knew 
anythi ng about you, and I soon determined ta makeL-YOU 
known _at a str oke. The newspaper c utting will tell you 
that (having^ust hmshed a series of lectures on Russia) 
I am~ahhouncing tresh lectures on your writi ngs. J or 
many years 1 have been obliged to repeat ail my lectures, 
as the University cannot hold the audiences ; that is not 
likely to be the case this time, as your name is so absolutely 
new, but the people who will come and get an impression 
of your works will not be of the dullest. 

As I should very much like to have an idea of your appear 
ance, / beg y on to give me a portrait of yourself . I enclose 
my last photograph. I would also ask you to tell me quite 
briefly when and where you were born and in what years 
you published (or better, wrote) your works, as they are 
not dated. If you have any newspaper that contains these 
details, there will be no need to write. I am an unmethodical 
person and possess neither dictionaries of authors nor other 
books of reference in which your name might be found. 

The youthful works — the Thoughts out of Season — have 
been very useful to me. How young you were and enthusi- 


astic, how frank and naive ! There is much in the maturer 
books that I do not yet understand ; you appear to me 
often to hint at or generalise about entirely intimate, 
personal data, giving the reader a beautiful casket without 
the key. But most of it I understand. I was enchanted 
by the youthful work on Schopenhauer ; although personally 
I owe little to Schopenhauer, it seemed to speak to me from 
the soul. 

One or two pedantic corrections : Joyful Wisdom, p. 116. 
The words quoted are not Chamfort's last, they are to be 
found in his Caracteres et Anecdotes: dialogue between M. D. 
and M. L. in explanation of the sentence : Peu de personnes 
et peu de choses m'interessent,mais rien ne m'interesse moins 
que moi. The concluding words are : en vivant et en voyant 
les hommes, ilfaut que le cceur se brise ou se bronze. 

On p. 118 you speak of the elevation "in which Shake- 
speare places Caesar." I find Shakespeare's Caesar pitiable. 
An act of high treason. And this glorification of the 
miserable fellow whose only achievement w^as to plunge 
a knife into a great man. 

Human, all-too-Human, II, p. 59. A holy lie. " It is 
the only holy lie that has become famous." No, Desde- 
mona's last words are perhaps still more beautiful and just 
as famous, often quoted in Germany at the time when 
Jacobi was writing on Lessing. Am I not right ? 

These trifles are only to show you that I read you atten- 
tively. Of course, there are very different mattrrs that I 
might discuss with you, but a letter is not the place for them. 

If you read Danish, I should like to send you a hand- 
somely got-up little book on Holberg, which will appear in 
a week. Let me know whether you understand our 
language. If you read Swedish, I call your attention to 
Sweden's only genius, August iStrindberg. When you 
write about women you are very like him. 

I hope you will have nothing but good to tell me of your 

Yours sincerely, 

George Brandes, 


10. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Torino (Italia) fcrtna in pasta, April 10, 1888. 

But, my dear Sir, what a surprise is this ! Where 
have you found the courage to propose to speak in pubHc 
of a vtr obscurissimus? . . . Do you imagine that I am 
known in the beloved Fatherland? They treat me there 
as if I were something singular and absurd, something 
that for the present need not be taken seriously. . . . 
Evidently they have an inkling that I do not take them 
seriously either : and how could I, nowadays, when " German 
intellect" has become a contradictio in adjecto ! — My best 
thanks for the photograph. Unfortunately I have none to 
send in return : my sister, who is married and lives in 
South America, took with her the last portraits I possessed. 

Enclosed is a little vita, the first I have ever written. 

As regards the dates of composition of the different books, 
they are to be found on the back of the cover of Beyond 
Good and Evil. Perhaps you no longer have this cover. 

The Birth of Tragedy was written between the summer 
of 1870 and the winter of 1871 (finished at Lugano, where 
I was living with the family of Field-Marshal Moltke). 

The Thoughts out of Season between 1872 and the summer 
of 1875 (there were to have been thirteen; luckily my health 
said No !). ^■■ 

What you say about Schopetihauer as Educator gives me 
great pleasure. This little work serves me as a touchstone ; 
he to whom it says noih'xng personal has probably nothing to 
do with me either. In reality it contains the whole plan 
according to which I have hitherto lived; it is a rigorous 

Human, all-too-Human, with its two continuations, 
summer of 1876-1879. The Dawn of Day, 1880. The 
Joyful Wisdom, January 1882. Zarathustra, 1883-1885\ 
(each part in about ten days. Perfect state of " inspira- I > 
tion." All conceived in the course of rapid walks : absolute ( 
certainty, as though each sentence were shouted to one. ' 


While writing the book, the greatest physical elasticity and 
sense of power). 

Beyond Good and Evil, summer of 1885 in the Upper 
Engadine and the following winter at Nice. 

The Genealogy decided on, carried out and sent ready for 
press to the printer at Leipzig, all between July 10 and 30, 
1887. (Of course there are also philologica of mine, but they 
do not concern you and me.) 

I am now making an experiment with Turin ; I shall stay 
here till June 5 and then go to the Engadine. The weather 
so far is wintry, harsh and unpleasant. But the town 
superbly calm and favourable to my instincts. The finest 
pavement in the world. 

Sincere greetings from 

Yours gratefully, 


A pity I understand neither Danish nor Swedish. 

Vita. — I was born on October 15, 1884, on the battle- 
field of Liitzen. The first name I heard was that of Gustavus 
Adolphus. My ancestors were Polish noblemen (Niezky); 
it seems the type has been well maintained, in spite of three 
generations of German mothers. Abroad I am usually 
taken for a Pole ; this very winter the visitors' list at Nice 
entered me comme Polonais, I am told my head occurs 
in Matejko's pictures. My grandmother belonged to the 
Schiller-Goethe circles of Weimar ; her brother was Herder's 
successor in the position of General Superintendent at 
Weimar. I had the good fortune to be a pupil of the 
venerable Pforta School, from which so many who have 
made a name in German literature have proceeded (Klop- 
stock, Fichte, Schlegel, Ranke, etc., etc.). We had masters 
who would have (or have) done honour to any university. 
I studied at Bonn, afterwards at Leipzig ; old Ritschl, then 
the first philologist in Germany, singled me out almost 
from the first. At twenty-two I was a contributor to the 
Litterarisches Centralblatt {Z^xncke). The foundation of the 
Philological Society of Leipzig, which still exists, is due to 



me. In the winter of 1868-1869 the University of Basle 
offered me a professorship ; I was as yet not even a Doctor. 
The University of Leipzig afterwards conferred the doctor's 
degree on me, in a very honourable way, without any 
examination, and even without a dissertation. From 
Easter 1869 to 1879 I was at Basle ; I was obliged to give 
up my rights as a German subject, since as an officer (Horse 
Artillery) I should have been called up too frequently and 
my academic duties would have been interfered with. I 
am none the less master of two weapons, the sabre and the 
cannon — and perhaps of a third as well. ... At Basle 
everything went very well, in spite of my youth ; it some- 
times happened, especially with candidates for the doctor's 
degree, that the examinee was older than the examiner. 
I had the great good fortune to form a cordial friendship 
with Jakob Burkhardt, an unusual thing with that very 
hermit-like and secluded thinker. A still greater piece of 
good fortune was that from the earliest days of my Basle 
existence an indescribably close intimacy sprang up between 
me and Richard and Cosima Wagner, who were then living 
on their estate of Triebschen, near Lucerne, as though on an 
island, and were cut off from all former ties. For some 
years we had everything, great and small, in common, a 
confidence without bounds. (You will find printed in 
Volume VII of Wagner's complete works a " message " to 
me, referring to The Birth of Tragedy.) As a result of these 
relations I came to know a large circle of persons (and 
" personesses "), in fact pretty nearly everything that 
grows between Paris and Petersburg. By about 1876 my 
health became worse. I then spent a winter at Sorrento, 
with my old friend. Baroness Meysenbug {Memoirs of an 
Idealist) and the sympathetic Dr. R6e. There was no 
improvement. I suffered from an extremely painful and 
persistent headache, which exhausted all my strength. This 
went on for a number of years, till it reached such a climax 
of habitual suffering, that at that time I had 200 days of "N 
torment in the year. The trouble must have been due 
entirely to local causes, there is no neuropathic basis for it 



of any sort. I have never had a symptom of mental 
disturbance ; not even of fever, nor of fainting. My pulse 
was at that time as slow as that of the first Napoleon ( = 60). 
My speciality was to endure extreme pain, cru, vert, with 
perfect clarity, for two or three consecutive days, accom- 
panied by constant vomiting of bile. The report has been 
put about that I was in a madhouse (and indeed that I 
died there). Nothing is further from the truth. As a 
matter of fact my intellect only came io maturity during 
that terrible time : witness the Dawn of Day, which I 
wrote in 1881 during a winter of incredible suffering at 
Genoa, away from doctors, friends or relations. This book 
serves me as a sort of "dynamometer" : I composed it with 
a minimum of strength and health. From 1882 on I went 
forward again, very slowly, it is true : the crisis was past 
(my father died very young, just at the age at which I was 
myself so near to death). I have to use extreme care even 
to-day ; certain conditions of a climatic and meteorological 
order are indispensable to me. It is not from choice but 
from necessity that I spend the summer in the Upper 
Engadine and the winter at Nice. . . . After all, my illness 
has been of the greatest use to me : it has released me, it 
has restored to me the courage to be myself. . . . And, 
indeed, in virtue of my instincts, I am a brave animal, a 
military one even. The long resistance has somewhat 
exasperated my pride. Am I a philosopher, do you ask ? — 
But what does that matter 1 . . . 

II. Br ANDES TO Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, April 29, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

The first time I lectured on your works, the hall was 
not quite full, an audience of perhaps a hundred and fifty, 
since no one knew who and what you are. But as an 
important newspaper reported my first lecture, and as I 
have myself written an article on you, interest was roused, 
and next time the hall was full to bursting. Some three 
hundred people listened with the greatest attention to my 


exposition of your works. Nevertheless, I have not ventured 
to repeat the lectures, as has been my practice for many 
years, since the subject is hardly of a popular nature. I 
hope the result will be to get you some good readers in the 

Your books now stand on one of my shelves, very hand- 
somely bound. I should be very glad to possess everything 
you have published. 

When, in your first letter, you offered me a musical work 
of yours, a Hymn to Life, I declined the gift from modesty, 
being no great judge of music. Now I think I have de- 
served the work through my interest in it and should be 
much obliged if you would have it sent to me. 

I believe I may sum up the impression of my audience in 
the feeling of a young painter, who said to me : "What 
makes this so interesting is that it has not to do with books, 
but with life." If any objection is taken to your ideas, it is 
that they are " too out-and-out." 

It was unkind of you not to send me a photograph ; I 
really only sent mine to put you under an obligation. It 
is so little trouble to sit to a photographer for a minute or 
two, and one knows a man far better when one has an idea 
of his appearance. 

Yours very sincerely, 

George Brandes. 

12. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Turin, May 4, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

What you tell me gives me great pleasure and — let 
me confess it — still more surprise. Be sure I shall owe 
you for it : you know, hermits are not given to forgetting. 

Meanwhile I hope my photograph will have reached you. 
It goes without saying that I took steps, not exactly to be 
photographed (for I am extremely distrustful of haphazard 
photographs), but to abstract a photograph from somebody 
who had one of me. Perhaps I have succeeded ; I have 


not yet heard. If not, I shall avail myself of my next visit 
to Munich (this autumn probably) to be taken again. 

The Hymn to Lifew'iW start on its journey to Copenhagen 
one of these days. We philosophers are never more grateful 
than when we are mistaken for artists. I am assured, more- 
over, by the best judges that the Hymn is thoroughly fit 
for performance, singable, and sure in its effect ( — clear in 
form ; this praise gave me the greatest pleasure). Mottl, 
the excellent court conductor at Carlsruhe (the conductor 
of the Bayreuth festival performances, you know), has 
given me hopes of a performance. 

I have just heard from Italy that the point of view of my 
second Thought out of Season has been very honourably 
mentioned in a survey of German literature contributed by the 
Viennese scholar, Dr. von Zackauer, at the invitation of the 
Archivio\storico of Florence. He concludes his paperwith it. 

These last weeks at Turin, where I shall stay till June 5, 
have turned out better than any I have known for years, 
above all more philosophic. Almost every day for one or 
two hours I have reached such a pitch of energy as to be 
able to view my whole conception from top to bottom ; so 
that the immense multiplicity of problems lies spread out 
beneath me, as though in relief and clear in its outlines. 
This requires a maximum of strength, for which I had almost 
given up hope. It all hangs together ; years ago it was 
already on the right course ; one builds one's philosophy 
like a beaver, one is forced to and does not know it : but 
one has to see all this, as I have now seen it, in order to 
believe it. 

I am so relieved, so strengthened, in such good humour — 
I hang a little farcical tail on to the most serious things. 
What is the reason of all this ? Have I got the good north 
winds to thank for it, the north winds which do not always 
come from the Alps ? — they come now and then even from 
Copenhagen ! 

With greetings. 

Your gratefully devoted, 




13. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Turin, May 23, i88a 
My dear Sir, 

I should not like to leave Turin without telling you 
once more what a great share you have had in my first 
successful spring. The history of my springs, for the last 
fifteen years at least, has been, I must tell you, a tale of 
horror, a fatality of decadence and infirmity. Places made 
no difference; it was as though no prescription, no diet, 
no climate could change the essentially depressing character 
of this time of year. But behold, Turin ! And the first 
good news, jvowr news, my dear Sir, which proved to me that 
I am alive. . . . For I am sometimes apt to forget that I 
am alive. An accident, a question reminded me the other 
day that one of life's leading ideas is positively quenched 
in me, the idea of the future. No wish, not the smallest 
cloudlet of a wish before me ! A bare expanse ! Why 
should not a day from my seventieth year be exactly like 
my day to-day ? Have I lived too long in proximity to 
death to be able any longer to open my eyes to fair possi- 
bilities ? — But certain it is that I now limit myself to think- 
ing from day to day — that I settle to-day what is to be done 
to-morrow — and not for a single day beyond it ! This may 
be irrational, unpractical, perhaps also unchristian — that 
preacher on the Mount forbade this very " taking thought 
for the morrow " — but it seems to me in the highest degree 
philosophical. I gained more respect for myself than I 
had before : — I understood that I had unlearnt how to wish, 
without even wanting to do so. 

These weeks I have employed in " transvaluing values." 
— You understand this trope ? — After all, the alchemist is 
the most deserving kind of man there is 1 I mean the man 
who makes of what is base and despised something valuable, 
even gold. He alone confers wealth, the others merely 
give change. My problem this time is rather a curious one; 
I have asked myself what hitherto has been best hated, 
feared, despised by mankind — and of that and nothing else 
I have made my "gold." . . . 


If only I am not accused of false-coining ! Or rather ; 
that is what will happen. 

Has my photograph reached you ? My mother has 
shown me the great kindness of relieving me from the 
appearance of ungratefulness in such a special case. It is 
to be hoped the Leipzig publisher, E. W. Fritzsch, has also 
done his duty and sent off the Hymn. 

In conclusion I confess to a feeling of curiosity. As it 
was denied me to listen at the crack of the door to learn 
something about myself, I should like to hear something in 
another way. Three words to characterise the subjects of 
your different lectures — how much should I learn from three 
words ! 

With cordial and devoted greetings, 



14. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, May 23, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

For letter, portrait and music I send you my best 
thanks. The letter and the music were an unqualified 
pleasure, the portrait might have been better. It is a 
profile taken at Naumburg, characteristic in its attitude, 
but with too little expression. You must look different 
from this ; the writer of Zarathustra must have many more 
secrets written in his own face. 

I concluded my lectures on Fr. Nietzsche before 
Whitsuntide. They ended, as the papers say, in applause 
"which took the form of an ovation." The ovation is 
yours almost entirely. I take the liberty of communicating 
it to you herewith in writing. For I can only claim the 
credit of reproducing, clearly and connectedly, and in- 
telligibly to a Northern audience, what you had originated. 

I also tried to indicate your relation to various con- 
temporaries, to introduce my hearers into the workshop 
of your thought, to put forward my own favourite ideas, 
where they coincided with yours, to define the points on 



which I differed from you, and to give a psychological 
portrait of Nietzsche the author. Thus much I may say 
without exaggeration : your name is now very popular in 
all intelligent circles in Copenhagen, and all over Scandinavia 
it is at least known. You have nothing to thank me for ; 
it has been a pleasure to me to penetrate into the world of 
your thoughts. My lectures are not worth printing, as I 
do not regard pure philosophy as my special province and 
am unwilling to print anything dealing with a subject in 
which I do not feel sufficiently competent. 

I am very glad you feel so invigorated physically and so 
well disposed mentally. Here, after a long winter, we have 
mild spring weather. We are rejoicing in the first green 
leaves and in a very well-arranged Northern exhibition that 
has been opened at Copenhagen. All the French artists 
of eminence (painters and sculptors) are also exhibiting 
here. Nevertheless, I am longing to get away, but have 
to stay. 

But this cannot interest you. I forgot to tell you : if 
you do not know the Icelandic sagas, you must study them. 
You will find there a great deal to confirm your hypotheses 
and theories about the morality of a master race. 

In one trifling detail you seem to have missed the mark. 
Gothic has certainly nothing to do with good or God. It is 
connected with giessen, he who emits the seed, and means 
stallion, man. 

On the other hand, our philologists here think your 
suggestion of bonus — duonus is much to the point. 

I hope that in future we shall never become entirely 
strangers to one another. 

I remain your faithful reader and admirer, 

George Brandes. 

15. Nietzsche to Brandes. (Post-card.) 

Turin, May 27, 1 888. 

What eyes you have ! You are right, the Nietzsche 

of the photograph is not yet the author of Zarathustra — he 

is a few years too young for that. 


I am very grateful for the etymology of Goth; it is simply 

I presume you are reading another letter of mine to-day. 
Your gratefully attached 


i6. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Sils-Maria, Sept. 13, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Herewith I do myself a pleasure — that of recalling 
myself to your memory, by sending you a wicked little 
book, but one that is none the less very seriously meant ; 
the product of the good days of Turin. For I must tell you 
that since then there have been evil days in superfluity; 
such a decline in health, courage and " will to life," to talk 
Schopenhauer, that the little spring idyll scarcely seemed 
credible any longer. Fortunately I still possessed a docu- 
ment belonging to it, the Case of Wagner. A Musician's 
Problem. Spiteful tongues will prefer to call it The Fall of 

Much as you may disclaim music ( — the most importunate 
of all the Muses), and with however good reason, yet pray 
look at this piece of musician's psychology. You, my dear 
Mr. Cosmopolitan, are far too European in your ideas not 
to hear in it a hundred times more than my so-called 
countrymen, the "musical" Germans. 

After all, in this case I am a connoisseur in rebus et personis 
— and, fortunately, enough of a musician by instinct to see 
that in this ultimate question of values, the problem is 
accessible and soluble through music. 

In reality this pamphlet is almost written in French — 
I dare say it would be easier to translate it into French than 
into German. 

Could you give me one or two more Russian or French 
addresses to which there would be some sense in sending the 

In a month or two something philosophical may be ex- 


pected ; under the very inoffensive title of Leisure Hours of 
a Psychologist 1 am saying agreeable and disagreeable things 
to the world at large — including that intelligent nation, the 

But all this is in the main nothing but recreation beside 
the main thing : the name of the latter is Transvaluation of 
all Values. Europe will have to discover a new Siberia, to 
which to consign the author of these experiments with 

I hope this high-spirited letter will find you in one of your 
usual resolute moods. 

With kind remembrances, 

Dr. Nietzsche. 

Address till middle of November: Torino (Italia) ferma 
in posta. 

17. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Oct. 6, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Your letter and valued gift found me in a raging 
fever of work. This accounts for my delay in answering. 

The mere sight of your handwriting gave me pleasurable 

It is sad news that you have had a bad summer. I was 
foolish enough to think that you had already got over all 
your physical troubles. 

I have read the pamphlet with the greatest attention 
and much enjoyment. I am not so unmusical that I cannot 
enter into the fun of it. I am merely not an expert. A few 
days before receiving the little book I heard a very fine 
performance of Carmen ; what glorious music 1 How- 
ever, at the risk of exciting your wrath I confess that 
Wagner's Tristan und Isolde made an indelible limpression 
on me. I once heard this opera in Berlin, in a despondent, 
altogether shattered state of mind, and I felt every note. 


I do not know whether the impression was so deep because I 
was so ill. 

Do you know Bizet's widow? You ought to send her 
the pamphlet. She would like it. She is the sweetest, 
most charming of women, with a nervous tic that is curiously 
becoming, but perfectly genuine, perfectly sincere and full 
of fire. Only she has married again (an excellent man, a 
barrister named Straus, of Paris). I believe she knows 
some German. I could get you her address, if it does not 
put you against her that she has not remained true to her 
god — any more than the Virgin Mary, Mozart's widow or 
Marie Louise. 

Bizet's child is ideally beautiful and charming. — But I am 

I have given a copy of the book to the greatest of Swedish 
writers, August Strindberg, whom I have entirely won over 
to you. He is a true genius, only a trifle mad like most 
geniuses (and non-geniuses). The other copy I shall also 
place with care. 

Paris I am not well acquainted with now. But send a 
copy to the following address : Madame la Princesse Anna 
Dmitrievna Tenicheff, Quai Anglais 20, Petersburg. This 
lady is a friend of mine ; she is also acquainted with the 
musical world of Petersburg and will make you known 
there. I have asked her before now to buy your works, but 
they were all forbidden in Russia, even Human, all-too- 

It would also be as well to send a copy to Prince Urussov 
(who is mentioned in Turgeniev's letters). He is greatly 
interested in everything German, and is a man of rich gifts, 
an intellectual gourmet. I do not remember his address for 
the moment, but can find it out. 

I am glad that in spite of all bodily ills you are working 
so vigorously and keenly. I am looking forward to all the 
things you promise me. 

It would give me great pleasure to be read by you, but 
unfortunately you do not understand my language. I have 
produced an enormous amount this summer. I have written 


two long new books (of twenty-four and twenty-eight sheets), 
Impressions of Poland and Impressions of Russia, besides 
entirely rewriting one of my oldest books, ^Esthetic StudieSy 
for a new edition and correcting the proofs of all three books 
myself. In another week or so I shall have finished this 
work ; then I give a series of lectures, writing at the same 
time another series in French, and leave for Russia in the 
depth of winter to revive there. 

That is the plan I propose for my winter campaign. May 
it not be a Russian campaign in the bad sense. 

I hope you will continue your friendly interest in me. 
I remain. 

Your faithfully devoted, 

George Brandes. 

18. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Turin, Oct. 20, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Once more your letter brought me a pleasant wind 
from the north ; it is in fact so far the only letter that puts 
a " good face," or any face at all on my attack on Wagner. 
For people do not write to me. I have irreparably offended 
even my nearest and dearest. There is, for instance, my 
old friend, Baron Seydlitz of Munich, who unfortunately 
happens to be President of the Munich Wagner Society ; 
my still older friend, Justizrath Krug of Cologne, president 
of the local Wagner Society ; my brother-in-law. Dr. Bern- 
hard Forster in South America, the not unknown Anti- 
Semite, one of the keenest contributors to the Bayreuther 
Blatter — and my respected friend, Malwida von Meysenbug, 
the authoress of Memoirs of an Idealist^ who continues to 
confuse Wagner with Michel Angelo. . . . 

On the other side I have been given to understand that I 
must be on my guard against the female Wagnerite ; in 
certain cases she is said to be without scruple. Perhaps 
Bayreuth will defend itself in the German Imperial manner, 
by the prohibition of my writings — as " dangerous to public 
morals " ; for here the Emperor is a party to the case. 


My dictum, "we all know the inaesthetic concept of the 
Christian Junker^' might even be interpreted as lese-majeste. 

Your intervention on behalf of Bizet's widow gave me 
great pleasure. Please let me have her address ; also that 
of Prince Urussov. A copy has been sent to your friend, 
the Princess Dmitrievna Tenicheff. When my next book 
is published, which will be before very long (the title is now 
The Twilight of the Idols. Or, How to Philosophise with 
the Hammer), I should much like to send a copy to the Swede 
you introduce to me in such laudatory terms. But I do 
not know where he lives. This book is my philosophy in 
nuce — radical to the point of criminality. . . . 

As to the effect of Tristan, I, too, could tell strange tales. 
A regular dose of mental anguish seems to me a splendid 
tonic before a Wagnerian repast. The Reichsgerichtsrath 
Dr. Wiener of Leipzig gave me to understand that a Carlsbad 
cure was also a good thing. . . . 

Ah, how industrious you are ! And idiot that I am, not 
to understand Danish ! I am quite willing to take your 
word for it that one can "revive" in Russia better than 
elsewhere ; I count any Russian book, above all Dostoievsky 
(translated into French, for Heaven's sake not German ! !) 
among my greatest sources of relief. 

Cordially and, with good reason, gratefully. 



19. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Nov. 16, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

I have waited in vain for an answer from Paris to 
learn the address of Madame Bizet. On the other hand, 
I now have the address of Prince Urussov. He lives in 
Petersburg, Sergievskaia 79. 

My three books are now out. I have begun my lectures 


Curious it is how something in your letter and in your 
book about Dostoievsky coincides with my own impres- 
sions of him. I have mentioned you, too, in my work on 
Russia, when deahng with Dostoievsky. He is a great 
poet, but an abominable creature, quite Christian in his 
emotions and at the same time quite sadique. His whole 
morality is what you have baptised slave-morality. 

The mad Swede's name is August Strindberg ; he lives 
here. His address is Holte, near Copenhagen. He is 
particularly fond of you, because he thinks he finds in you 
his own hatred of women. On this account he calls you 
"modern" (irony of fate). On reading the newspaper 
reports of my spring lectures, he said : "It is an astonish- 
ing thing about this Nietzsche ; much of what he says is 
just what I might have written." His drama, Pere, has 
appeared in French with a preface by Zola. 

I feel mournful whenever I think of Germany. What a 
development is now going on there ! How sad to think 
that to all appearance one will never in one's lifetime be a 
historical witness of the smallest good thing. 

What a pity that so learned a philologist as you should 
not understand Danish. I am doing all I can to prevent 
my books on Poland and Russia being translated, so that 
I may not be expelled, or at least refused the right of speaking 
when I next go there. 

Hoping that these lines will find you still at Turin or will 
be forwarded to you, I am, 

Yours very sincerely, 

George Brandes. 

20. Nietzsche to Brandes. 

Torino, via Carlo Alberto, 6, ///. 

Nov. 20, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Forgive me for answering at once. Curious things 
are now happening in my life, things that are without 


precedent. First the day before yesterday ; now again. 
Ah, if you knew what I had just written when your letter 
paid me its visit. 

With a cynicism that will become famous in the world's 
history, I have now related myself. The book is called 
Ecce Homo, and is an attack on the Crucified without the 
slightest reservation ; it ends in thunders and lightnings 
against everything that is Christian or infected with Christi- 
anity, till one is blinded and deafened. I am in fact the 
first psychologist of Christianity and, as an old artilleryman, 
can bring heavy guns into action, the existence of which no 
opponent of Christianity has even suspected. The whole is 
the prelude to the Transvaluation of all Values, the work 
that lies ready before me : I swear to you that in two 
years we shall have the whole world in convulsions. I am 
a fate. 

Guess who come off worst in Ecce Homo ? Messieurs the 
Germans ! I have told them terrible things. . . . The 
Germans, for instance, have it on their conscience that they 
deprived the last great epoch of history, the Renaissance, of 
its meaning — at a moment when the Christian values, the 
decadence values, were worsted, when they were conquered 
in the instincts even of the highest ranks of the clergy by 
the opposite instincts, the instincts of life. To attack the 
Church — that meant to re-establish Christianity. (Cesare 
Borgia as pope — that would have been the meaning of the 
Renaissance, its proper symbol.) 

You must not be angry either, to find yourself brought 
forward at a critical passage in the book — I wrote it just 
now — where I stigmatise the conduct of my German friends 
towards me, their absolute leaving me in the lurch as regards 
both fame and philosophy. Then you suddenly appear, 
surrounded by a halo. . . . 

I believe implicitly what you say about Dostoievsky ; I 
esteem him, on the other hand, as the most valuable psycho- 
logical material I know — I am grateful to him in an extra- 
ordinary way, however antagonistic he may be to my 
deepest instincts. Much the same as my relation to Pascal, 



whom I almost love, since he has taught me such an infinite 
amount ; the only logical Christian. 

The day before yesterday I read, with delight and with a 
feeling of being thoroughly at home, Les maries, by Herr 
August Strindberg. My sincerest admiration, which is only 
prejudiced by the feeling that I am admiring myself a little 
at the same time. 

Turin is still my residence. 


Nietzsche, now a monster. 

Where may I send you the Twilight of the Idols? If you 
will be at Copenhagen another fortnight, no answer is 

21. Brandes to Nietzsche. 

Copenhagen, Nov. 23, 1888. 

My dear Sir, 

Your letter found me to-day in full fever of work ; I 
am lecturing here on Goethe, repeat each lecture twice 
and yet people wait in line for three quarters of an hour in 
the square before the University to get standing-room. It 
amuses me to study the greatest of the great before so many. 
I must stay here till the end of the year. 

But on the other side there is the unfortunate circumstance 
that — as I am informed — one of my old books, lately trans- 
lated into Russian, has been condemned in Russia to be 
publicly burnt as " irreligious." 

I already had to fear expulsion on occount of my two last 
works on Poland and Russia ; now I must try to set in motion 
all the influence I can command, in order to obtain permission 
to lecture in Russia this winter. To make matters worse, 
nearly all letters to and from me are now confiscated. There 
is great anxiety since the disaster at Borki. It was just the 
same shortly after the famous attempts. Every letter was 
snapped up. 


It gives me lively satisfaction to see that you have again 
got through so much. Rejj fiyp- mp^I spread you r propaganda 
wjagrp^rpr I-ean. So late as last week I earnestly recom- 
mended_ Henrik Ibsen to stud y you r wor ks. With him too 
y6u have some kinship, even if it is a very distant kinship. 
Great and strong and unamiable, but yet worthy of love, is 
this singular person. Strindberg will be glad to hear of your 
appreciation. I do not know the French translation you 
mention ; but they say here that all the best things in Giftas 
{Maries) have been left out, especially the witty polemic 
against Ibsen. But read his drama Pere ; there is a great 
scene in it. I am sure he would gladly send it you. But I 
see him so seldom ; he is so shy on account of an extremely 
unhappy marriage. Imagine it, he abhors his wife intel- 
lectually and cannot get away from her physically. He is a 
monogamous misogynist ! 

It seems curious to me that the polemical trait is still so 
strong in you. In my early days I was passionately pole- 
mical ; now I can only expound ; silence is my only weapon 
of offence. I should as soon think of attacking Christianity 
as of writing a pamphlet against werewolves, I mean against 
the belief in werewolves. 

But I see we understand one another. I too love Pascal. 
But even as a young man I was for the Jesuits against Pascal 
(in the Provinciates) . The worldly-wise, they were right, 
of course ; he did not understand them ; but they understood 
him and — what a master-stroke of impudence and sagacity ! 
— they themselves published his Provinciates with notes. 
The best edition is that of the Jesuits. 

Luther against the Pope, there we have the same collision. 
Victor Hugo in the preface to the Feuilles d'Automne has 
this fine saying : On convoque la diete de Worms mais on 
peint la chapelle Sixtine. Ily a Luther, mais ily a Michel- 
Ange . . . et remarquons en passant que Luther est dans les 
vieilleries quicroulent autour de nouset que Michel-Ange n'y 
est pas. 

Study the face of Dostoievsky : half a Russian peasant's 
face, half a criminal physiognomy, flat nose, little piercing 



eyes under lids quivering with nervousness, this lofty and 
well-formed forehead, this expressive mouth that speaks of 
torments innumerable, of abysmal melancholy, of unhealthy 
appetites, of infinite pity, passionate envy ! An epileptic 
genius, whose exterior alone speaks of the stream of gentle- 
ness that filled his spirit, of the wave of acuteness almost 
amounting to madness that mounted to his head, and finally 
of the ambition, the immense effort, and of the ill-will that 
results from pettiness of soul. 

His heroes are not only poor and pitiable creatures, but 
simple-minded sensitive ones, noble strumpets, often victims 
of hallucination, gifted epileptics, enthusiastic candidates 
for martyrdom — just those types which we should suspect 
in the apostles and disciples of the early days of Christianity. 

Certainly nothing could be farther removed from the 

I am excited to know how I can come into your book. 
I remain your faithfully devoted 

George Brandes. 

22. Unstamped. Without further address, undated. Written in a large 
hand on a piece of paper (not note-paper) ruled in pencil, such as 
children use. Post-mark : Turin, January 4, 1889. 


When once you had discovered me, it was easy enough 
to find me : the difficulty now is to get rid of me . . . 

The Crucified. 

As Herr Max Nordau has attempted with incredible 
coarseness to brand Nietzsche's whole life-work as the 
production of a madman, I call attention to the fact that 
signs of powerful exaltation only appear in the last letter 


but one, and that insanity is only evident in the last letter 
of all, and then not in an unqualified form. 

But at the close of the year 1888 this clear and masterly 
mind began to be deranged. His self-esteem, which had 
always been very great, acquired a morbid character. His 
light and delicate self-irony, which appears not unfrequently 
in the letters here given, gave place to constantly recurring 
outbursts of anger with the German public's failure to 
appreciate the value of his works. It ill became a man of 
Nietzsche's intellect, who only a year before (see Letter 
No. 2) had desired a small number of intelligent readers, 
to take such offence at the indifference of the mob. He 
now gave expression to the most exalted ideas about himself. 
In his last book but one he had said : " I have given the 
Germans the profoundest books of any they possess " ; in 
his last he wrote: "I have given mankind the profoundest 
book it possesses." At the same time he yielded to an 
impulse to describe the fame he hoped to attain in the future 
as already his. As the reader will see, he had asked me to 
furnish him wit}i~fhe addresses of peisuiis in Parisrand Peters- 
burg who might be able to make his name known in France 
and Russia. 1 chose them to the best of my judgment. 
But even before the books he sent had reached their destina- 
tions, Nietzsche wrote in a German review: "And thus I 
am treated in Germany, I who am already studied in Peters- 
burg and Paris." That his sense of propriety was beginning 
to be deranged was already shown when sending the book 
to Princess Tenicheff (see Letter No. 18). This lady wrote 
to me in astonishment, asking what kind of a strange friend 
I had recommended to her : he had been sufficiently wanting 
in taste to give the sender's name on the parcel itself as 
"Tl^e Antichrist." Some time after I had received the last 
deranged and touching letter, another was shown me, 
which Nietzsche had presumably sent the same day, and in 
which he wrote that he intended to summon a meeting of 
sovereigns in Rome to have the young German Emperor 
shot there ; this was signed " Nietzsche-Caesar." The 
letter to me was signed "The Crucified." It was thus 



evident that this great mind in its final megalomania had 
oscillated between attributing to itself the two greatest 
names in history, so strongly contrasted. 

It was exceedingly sad thus to witness the change that in 
the course of a few weeks reduced 11 genius without equal to 
a poor helpless creature, in whom almost the last gleam of 
mental life was extinguished for ever. 


(AUGUST T900) 



{August 1900) 

It sometimes happens that the death of a great individual 
recalls a half-forgotten name to our memory, and we then 
disinter for a brief moment the circumstances, events, 
writings or achievements which gave that name its renown. 
Although Friedrich Nietzsche in his silent madness had 
survived himself for eleven and a half years, there is no 
need at his death to resuscitate his works or his fame. For 
during those very years in which he lived on in the night of 
insanity, his name has acquired a lustre unsurpassed by any 
contemporary reputation, and his works have been trans- 
lated into every language and are known all over the world. 

To the older among us, who have followed Nietzsche 
from the time of his arduous and embittered struggle against 
the total indifference of the reading world, this prodigiously 
rapid attainment of the most absolute and world-wide 
renown has in it something in the highest degree surprising. 
No one in our time has experienced anything like it. In the 
course of five or six years Nietzsche's intellectual tendency 
— now more or less understood, now misunderstood, now 
involuntarily caricatured — became the ruling tendency of 
a great part of the literature of France, Germany, England, 
Italy, Norway, Sweden and Russia. Note, for example, 
the influence of this spirit on Gabriele d'Annunzio. To all 
that was tragic in Nietzsche's life was added this — that, 
after thirsting for recognition to the point of morbidity, he 
attained it in an altogether fantastic degree when, though 
still living, he was shut out from life. But certain it is that 
in the decade 1890-1900 no one engaged and impressed the 




minds of his contemporaries as did this son of a North 
German clergyman, who tried so hard to be taken for a 
PoHsh nobleman, and whose pride it was that his works 
were conceived in French, thougk written in German. The 
little weaknesses of his character were forgotten in the 
grandeur of the style he imparted to his life and his 

To be able to explain Nietzsche's rapid and overwhelming 
triumph, one would want the key to the secret of the psycho- 
logical life of our time. He bewitched the age, though he 
seems opposed to all its instincts. The age is ultra-demo- 
cratic ; he won its favour as an aristocrat. The age is borne 
on a rising wave of religious reaction ; he conquered with his 
pronounced irreligion. The age is struggling with social 
questions of the most difficult and far-reaching kind : he, 
1 the thinker of the age, left all these questions on one side as 
\of secondary importance. H e was an enemy of the hum ani- 
jtar ianism of the present day and of its doctrine of happiness ; 
he had a passion for proving how much that is baseband 
Imean may conceal itselt beneath the guise ot pity, lovg * of 
one s neighbour an d unselfishness ^ he assailed pessim isinand 
s^orn'edolpfimism ; he attacked the ethics of the phi losop hers 
with the same violence as the thinkers of the eighteenth 
century had attacked the dogmas of the theologians. As 
he became an atheist from religion, so did he become an 
immoralist from morality. Nevertheless the Voltairians of 
the age could not claim him, since he was a mystic; and 
contemporary anarchists had to reject him as an enthusiast 
for rulers and castes. 

For all that, he must in some hidden way have been in 
accord with much that is fermenting in our time, otherwise 
it would not have adopted him as it has done. The fact 
of having known Nietzsche, or having been in any way 
connected with him, is enough at present to make an author 
famous — more famous, sometimes, than all his writings 
have made him. 

What Nietzsche as a young man admired more than 
anything else in Schopenhauer and Richard Wagner was 


" the indomitable energy with which they maintained their 
self-reHance in the midst of the hue and cry raised against 
them by the whole cultured world." He made this self- 
reliance his own, and this was no doubt the first thing to 
make an impression. 

In the next place the artist in him won over those to whom 
the aphorisms of the thinker were obscure. With all his 
mental acuteness he was a pronounced lyricist. In the 
autumn of 1888 he wrote of Heine: "How he handled Ger- 
man ! One day it will be said that Heine and I were without 
comparison the supreme artists of the German language." 
One who is not a German is but an imperfect judge of 
Nietzsche's treatment of language : but in our day all German 
connoisseurs are agreed in calltng him the greatest stylist 
of German prose. 

He further impressed his contemporaries by his psycho- 
logical profundity and abstruseness. His spiritual life has 
its abysses and labyrinths. Self-contemplation provides him 
with immense material for investigation. And he is not 
content with self-contemplation. His craving for knowledge 
is a passion; covetousness he calls it: "In this soul there 
dwells no unselfishness ; on the contrary, an all-desiring self 
that would see by the help of many as with its own eyes and 
grasp as with its own hands ; this soul of mine would even 
choose to bring bg<Ck all the past and not lose anything that 
might belong ta it. What a flame is this covetousness of 
mine!" y^ 

The equ^ly strong development of his lyrical and critical 
Qualifies made a fascinating combination. But it was the 
cause of those reversals of his personal relations which de- 
prive his career (in much the same way asSoren Kierkegaard's) 
of some of the dignity it might have possessed. When a 
great personality crossed his path he called all his lyricism 
to arms and with clash of sword on shield hailed the person 
in question as a demigod or a god (Schopenhauer and 
Richard Wagner). When later on he discovered the limita- 
tions of his hero, his enthusiasm was apt to turn to hatred, 
and this hatred found vent without the smallest regard to 


his former worship. This characteristic is offensively con- 
spicuous in Nietzsche's behaviour to Wagner. But who 
knows whether this very lack of dignity has not contributed 
to increase the number of Nietzsche's admirers in an age 
that is somewhat undignified on this point ! 

In the last period of his life Nietzsche appeared rather as 
a prophet than as a thinker. He predicts the Superman. 
And he makes no attempt at logical proof, but proceeds 
from a reliance on the correctness and sureness of his 
instinct, convinced that he himself represents a life-promoting 
principle and his opponents one hostile to life. 

To him the object of existence is everywhere the pro- 
duction of genius. The higher man in our day is like a 
vessel in which the future of the race is fermenting in an 
impenetrable way, and more than one of these vessels is 
burst or broken in the process. But the human race is not 
ruined by the failure of a single creature. Man, as we know 
him, is only a bridge, a transition from the animal to the 
superman. What the ape is in relation to man, a laughing- 
stock or a thing of shame, that will man be to the superman. 
Hitherto every species has produced something superior 
to itself. Nietzsche teaches that man too will and must do 
the same. He has drawn a conclusion from Darwinisio^ 
which Darwin himself did not see. ' 

In the last~decade'"Df'"ttlB"'nmeteenth century Nietzsche 
and Tolstoy appeared as the two opposite poles. Nietzsche's 
morality is aristocratic as T<^toy's is popular, individualistic 
as Tolstoy's is evangelical ; it asserts the self-majesty of the 
individual, where Tolstoy's proclaims the necessity of self- 

In the same decade Nietzsche and Ibsen were sometimes 
compared. Ibsen, like Nietzsche, was a combative spirit 
and held entirely aloof from political and practical life. 
A first point of agreement between them is that they both 
laid stress on not having come of small folk. Ibsen made 
known to me in a letter that his parents, both on the father's 
and the mother's side, belonged to the most esteemed 
families of their day in Skien in Norway, related to all the 


patrician families of the place and country. Skien is no 
world-city, and the aristocracy of Skien is quite unknown 
outside it ; but Ibsen wanted to make it clear that his 
bitterness against the upper class in Norway was in no wise 
due to the rancour and envy of the outsider. 

Nietzsche always made it known to his acquaintances that 
he was descended from a Polish noble family, although he 
possessed no pedigree. His correspondents took this for 
an aristocratic whim, all the more because the name given 
out by him, Niezky, by its very spelling betrayed itself 
as not Polish. But the fact is otherwise. The true spelling 
of the name is Nicki, and a young Polish admirer of 
Nietzsche, Mr. Bernard Scharlitt, has succeeded in proving 
Nietzsche's descent from the Nicki family, by pointing out 
that its crest is to be found in a signet which for centuries 
has been an heirloom in the family of Nietzsche. Perhaps 
not quite without reason, Scharlitt therefore sees in Nietz- 
sche's master-morality and his whole aristocratising of the 
view of the world an expression of the szlachcic spirit 
inherited from Polish ancestors. 

Nietzsche and Ibsen, independently of each other but 
like Renan, have sifted the thought of breeding moral 
aristocrats. It is the favourite idea of Ibsen's Rosmer ; it 
remains Dr. Stockmann's. Thus Nietzsche speaks of the 
higher man as the preliminary aim of the race, before 
Zarathustra announces the superman. 

They meet now and then on ftie territory of psychology. 
Ibsen speaks in The Wild Duck of the necessity of falsehood 
to life. Nietzsche loved life so greatly that even truth 
appeared to him of worth only in the case of its acting for 
the preservation and advancement of life. Falsehood is to 
him an injurious and destructive power only in so far as it 
is life-constricting. It is not objectionable where it is 
necessary to life. 

It is strange that a thinker who abhorred Jesuitism as 
Nietzsche did should arrive at this standpoint, which leads 
directly to Jesuitism. Nietzsche agrees here with many of 
his opponents. 



Ibsen and Nietzsche were both soHtary, even if they were 
not at all careless as to the fate of their works. It is the 
strongest man, says Dr. Stockmann, who is most isolated. 
Who was most isolated, Ibsen or Nietzsche ? Ibsen, who 
held back from every alliance with others, but exposed his 
work to the masses of the theatre-going public, or Nietzsche, 
who stood alone as a thinker but as a man continually — 
even if, as a rule, in vain — spied after the like-minded and 
after heralds, and whose works, in the time of his conscious 
life, remained unread by the great public, or in any case 

Decision does not fall lightly to one who, by a whim of 
fate, was regarded by both as an ally. Still more difficult is 
the decision as to which of them has had the deepest effect 
on the contemporary mind and which will longest retain his 
fame. But this need not concern us. Wherever Nietzsche's 
teaching extends, and wherever his great and rare person- 
ality is mastered, its attraction and repulsion will alike 
be powerful ; but everywhere it will contribute to the 
development and moulding of the individual personality. 





Since the publication of Nietzsche's collected works 
was completed, Frau Forster-Nietzsche has allowed the 
Insel-Verlag of Leipzig to issue, at a high price and for 
subscribers only, Friedrich Nietzsche's posthumous work 
Ecce Homo, which has been lying in manuscript for more 
than twenty years, and which she herself had formerly 
excluded from his works, considering that the German 
reading public was not ripe to receive it in the proper way 
— which we may doubtless interpret as a fear on her part 
that the attitude of the book towards Germanism and 
Christianity would raise a terrible outcry. 

Now that Nietzsche holds undisputed sway over German 
minds and exercises an immense influence in the rest of 
Europe and in America, it will certainly be read with emotion 
and discreetly criticised. 

It gives us an autobiography, written during Nietzsche's 
last productive months, almost immediately before the 
collapse of his powers, between October 15 and Novem- 
ber 4, 1888 ; and in the course of this autobiography each 
of his books is briefly characterised. 

Here as elsewhere Nietzsche's thoughts are centred on 
the primary conceptions of ascent and descent, growth 
and decay. Bringing himself into relation with them, he 
finds that, as the victim of stubborn illness and chronically 
recurring pain, he is a decadent ; but at the same time, as 
one who in his inmost self is unaffected by his illness, nay, 
whose strength and fulness of life even increase during its 
attacks, he is the very reverse of a decadent, a being who 



is in process of raising himself to a higher form of life. 
He once more emphasises the fact that the years in which 
his vitality was lowest were just those in which he threw 
off all melancholy and recovered his joy in life, his enthu- 
siasm for life, since he had a keen sense that a sick man 
has no right to pessimism. 

He begins by giving us plain, matter-of-fact information 
about himself, speaking warmly and proudly of his father. 
The latter had been tutor to four princesses of Altenburg 
before he was appointed to his living. Out of respect for 
Friedrich Wilhelm IV. he gave his son the Hohenzollern 
names of Friedrich Wilhelm, and he felt the events of 1848 
very keenly. His father only reached the age of thirty-six, 
and Nietzsche lost him when he was himself five years 
old. But he ascribes to paternal heredity his ability to 
feel at home in a world of high and delicate things (in einer 
IVelt hoher und zarter Dinge). For all that, Nietzsche does 
not forget to bring in, here as elsewhere, the supposition 
of his descent from Polish noblemen ; but he did not know 
this for a fact, and it was only established by Scharlitt's 
investigation of the family seal. 

He describes himself as what we should call a winning 
personality. He has " never understood the art of arousing 
ill-feeling against himself." He can tame every bear; he 
even makes clowns behave decently. However out of 
tune the instrument " man " may be, he can coax a pleasing 
tone out of it. During his years of teaching, even the 
laziest became diligent under him. Whatever offence has 
been done him, has not been the result of ill-will. The 
pitiful have wounded him more deeply than the malicious. 

Nor has he given vent to feelings of revenge or rancour. 
His conflict with Christianity is only one instance among 
many of his antagonism to resentful feelings. It is an 
altogether different matter that his very nature is that of 
a warrior. But he confers distinction on the objects of 
his attacks, and he has never waged war on private in- 
dividuals, only on types ; thus in Strauss he saw nothing 
but the Culture-Philistine. 


He attributes to himself an extremely vivid and sensitive 
instinct of cleanliness. At the first contact the filth lying 
at the base of another's nature is revealed to him. The 
unclean are therefore ill at ease in his presence ; nor does the 
sense of being seen through make them any more fragrant. 

And with true psychology he adds that his greatest 
danger — he means to his spiritual health and balance — 
is loathing of mankind. 

The loathing of mankind is doubtless the best modern 
expression for what the ancients called misanthropy. No 
one knows what it is till he has experienced it. When we 
read, for instance, in our youth of Frederick the Great 
that in his later years he was possessed and fettered 
by contempt for men, this appears to us an unfortnnate 
peculiarity which the king ought to have overcome ; for 
of course he must have seen other men about him besides 
those who flattered him for the sake of advantage. But 
the loathing of mankind is a force that surprises and over- 
whelms one, fed by hundreds of springs concealed in sub- 
consciousness. One only detects its presence after having 
long entertained it unawares. 

Nietzsche cannot be said to have overcome it ; he fled 
from it, took refuge in solitude, and lived outside the world 
of men, alone in the mountains among cold, fresh springs. 

And even if he felt no loathing for individuals, his disgust 
with men found a collective outlet, since he entertained, or 
rather worked up, a positive horror of his countrymen, 
so powerful that at last it breaks out in everything he 
writes. It reminds us dimly of Byron's dislike of English- 
men, Stendhal's of Frenchmen, and Heine's of Germans. 
But it is of a more violent character than Stendhal's or 
Heine's, and it has a pathos and contempt of its own. 
He shows none of it at the outset. In his first book, The 
Birth of Tragedy, he is no less partial to Germany than 
Heine was in his first, romantically Teutonic period. But 
Nietzsche's development carried him with a rush away from 
Germanism, and in this last book of his the word " German " 
has become something like his worst term of abuse. 



He believes only in French culture ; all other culture is 
a misunderstanding. It makes him angry to see those 
Frenchmen he values most infected by German spirit." 
Thus Taine is, in his opinion, corrupted by Hegel's influence. 
This impression is right in so far as Hegel deprived Taine 
of some of the essentially French element which he origin- 
ally possessed, and of which certain of his admirers before 
now have painfully felt the loss. But he overlooks the 
effect of the study of Hegel in promoting at the same time 
what one might call the extension of Taine's intellectual 
horizon. And Nietzsche is satisfied with no narrower 
generalisation of the case than this : Wherever Germany 
extends, she ruins culture. 

As though to make sure of wounding German national 
pride, he declares that Heinrich Heine (not Goethe) gave 
him the highest idea of lyric poetry, and that as concerns 
.■ Byron's Manfred, he has no words, only a look, for those 
who in the presence of this work dare to utter the name 
of Faust. The Germans, he maintains in connection with 
Manfred, are incapable of any conception of greatness. 
» So uncritical has he become that he puts Manfred above 

In his deepest instincts Nietzsche is now, as he asserts, 
so foreign to everything German, that the mere presence 
of a German "retards his digestion." German intellect is 
to him indigestion ; it can never be finished with anything. 
If he has been so enthusiastic in his devotion to Wagner, 
if he still regards his intimate relationship with Wagner 
as the most profound refreshment of his life, this was 
because in Wagner he honoured the foreigner, because in 
him he saw the incarnate protest against all German virtues. 
In his book, The Case of Wagner, he had already hinted 
that Richard Wagner, the glory of German nationalism, 
was of Jewish descent, since his real father seems to have 
been the step-father, Geyer. I could not have survived my 
youth without Wagner, he says ; I was condemned to the 
society of Germans and had to take a counter-poison ; 
Wagner was the counter-poison. 


Here, by way of exception, he generalises his feeling. 
We who were children in the 'fifties, he says, necessarily 
became pessimists in regard to the concept "German." 
We cannot be anything else than revolutionaries. And 
he explains this expression thus : We can assent to no state 
of affairs which allows the canting bigot to be at the top. 
(Hoffding's protest against the use of the word "radicalism" 
applied to Nietzsche, in Moderne Filosofer, is thus beside 
the mark.) Wagner was a revolutionary ; he fled from the 
Germans. And, Nietzsche adds, as an artist, a man has 
no other home than Paris — the city which, strangely 
enough, he was never to see. He ranks Wagner among 
the later masters of French romanticism — Delacroix, 
Berlioz, Baudelaire — and wisely says nothing about the 
reception of Wagnerian opera in Paris under the Empire. 

In everything Nietzsche now adopts the French stand- 
point — the old and narrow French standpoint — that, for 
instance, of the elderly Voltaire towards Shakespeare. 
He declares here, as he has done before, that his artist's 
taste defends Moliere, Corneille and Racine, not without 
bitterness {nicht ohne Ingrimm) against such a wild (wiistes) 
genius as Shakespeare. Strangely enough he repeats here 
his estimate of Shakespeare's Caesar as his finest creation, 
weak as it is : " My highest formula for Shakespeare is 
that he conceived the type of Ccesar." It must be added 
that here again Nietzsche assents to the unhappy delusion 
that Shakespeare never wrote the works that bear his 
name. Nietzsche is "instinctively" certain that they are 
due to Bacon, and, ignoring repeated demonstrations of 
the impossibility of this fatuous notion, he supports his 
conjecture by the grotesque assertion that if he himself 
had christened his Zarathustra by a name not his own — by 
Wagner's, for instance — the acumen of two thousand 
years would not have sufficed to guess who was its originator ; 
no one would have believed it possible that the author 
of Human all-too-Human had conceived the visions of 

He allows the Germans no honour as philosophers : 


Leibniz and Kant were " the two greatest clogs upon the 
intellectual integrity of Europe." Just when a perfectly 
scientific attitude of mind had been attained, they managed 
to find byways back to " the old ideal." And no less 
passionately does he deny to the Germans all honour as 
musicians : "A German cannot know what music is. The 
men who pass as German musicians are foreigners, Slavs, 
Croats, Italians, Dutchmen or Jews. I am Pole enough 
to give up all other music for Chopin — except Wagner's 
Siegfried-Idyll^ some things of Liszt, and the Italians 
Rossini and Pietro Gasti " (by this last name he appears 
to mean his favourite disciple, Koselitz, who wrote under 
the pseudonym of Peter Gast). 

He abhors the Germans as "idealists." All idealism 
is falsehood in the face of necessity. He finds a pernicious 
idealism in Henrik Ibsen too, "that typical old maid," as 
well as in others whose object it is to poison the clean 
conscience, the natural spirit, of sexual love. And he gives 
us a clause of his moral code, in which, under the head of 
Vice, he combats every kind of opposition to Nature, or 
if fine words are preferred, every kind of idealism. The 
clause runs : " Preaching of chastity is a public incitement 
to unnatural practices. All depreciation of the sexual 
life, all sullying of it with the word 'impure,' is a crime 
against Life itself — is the real sin against the holy spirit 
of Life." 

Finally he attacks what he calls the " licentiousness " of 
the Germans in historical matters. German historians, 
he declares, have lost all eye for the values of culture ; 
in fact, they have put this power of vision under the ban of 
the Empire. They claim that a man must in the first 
place be a German, must belong to the race. If he does, 
he is in a position to determine values or their absence : 
the Germans are thus the " moral order of the universe " 
in history; compared with the power of the Roman 
Empire they are the champions of liberty ; compared with 
the eighteenth century they are the restorers of morality 
and of the Categorical Imperative. "History is actually 


written on Imperial German and Antisemitic lines — and 
Herr von Treitschke is not ashamed of himself." 

The Germans have on their conscience every crime 
against culture committed in the last four centuries. As 
Nietzsche in his later years was never tired of asserting, they 
deprived the Renaissance of its meaning, they wrecked it 
by the Reformation ; that is, by Luther, an impossible 
monk who, owing to his impossibility, attacked the Church 
and in so doing restored it. The Catholics would have every 
reason to honour Luther's name. 

And when, upon the bridge between two centuries of 
decadence, a force majeure of genius and will revealed 
itself, strong enough to weld Europe into political and 
economic unity, the Germans finally, with their " Wars of 
Liberation," robbed Europe of the meaning of Napoleon's 
existence, a prodigy of meaning. Thus they have upon 
their conscience all that followed, nationalism, the nevrose 
nationale from which Europe is suffering, and the perpetu- 
ation of the system of little states, of petty politics. 

Last of all, the Germans have upon their conscience 
their attitude to himself, their indifference, their lack of 
recognition, the silence in which they buried his life's work. 
The Germans are bad company. And although his auto- 
biography ends with a poem in which he affects a scorn of 
fame, " that coin in which the whole world pays, but which 
he receives with gloved hands and tiamples underfoot with 
loathing " — yet his failure to win renown in Germany 
during his lifetime contributed powerfully to foster his 

The exaltation that marks the whole tone of the work, 
the unrestrained self-esteem which animates it and is omin- 
ous of the near approach of madness, have not deprived 
Ecce Homo of its character of surpassing greatness. 

Woous A Sons, Ltd 

IsHugtou, Loudon, 

3ECT. f:^3!?71979 



University of Toronto Robarts 




The rule and exercises of holy living. 

B Brandes, Georg Morris Cohen 
3317 Friedrich Nietzsche 
B733 t-New ed. 





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